Bill proposing repeal of PLDC receives overwhelming public support

Hawaii House holds weekend hearing on PLDC issues

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since its establishment in 2011, the Public Land Development Corporation has been met with heavy public opposition.

Its detractors made sure their voices were heard Saturday morning in a hearing at the Capitol.

More than 300 people submitted testimony in favor of a bill that would get rid of the PLDC, the agency set up to manage public lands across the state, entirely.

"Starting the conversation on the premise that public lands are a resource that should be developed as quickly and as profitably as possible and that we should set aside environmental and public interest protections in the interest of expediency, is set up for a true tragedy of the commons," former state senator Gary Hooser said.

Saturday's hearing comes three weeks after Governor Neil Abercrombie said he would consider a repeal, but asked lawmakers to try and find a compromise.

PLDC's opponents say it lacks transparency and gives the government unlimited power in managing public lands.

"Over time in this experience, there was no courtesy of response, engagement, dialogue, updates, as changes, revisions and plans took place within the PLDC regardless of our input," said Mahina Martin, who flew in from Maui for the hearing.

Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter, also favors the proposed repeal.

"Too often, these concepts have come from one or two people and they really rammed it through without really a normal process," Harris said. "What we need is a shared vision about how we are going to move forward and again, a clean slate gives us that opportunity."

The corporation is set up to develop state lands and create funding for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

DLNR chair William Aila argues a 'clean slate' isn't the right solution, but instead, he supports another proposal that establishes an authority that oversees state harbors and parks and keeps other public lands untouched.

"We have one property manager for parks," Aila said. "We have one property manager for state harbors and that's clearly not enough to develop alternate sources of revenue given the resources that we have in house."

Representatives will reconvene on Monday to decide whether to advance the repeal.

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