Native Hawaiians rally at state Capitol in support of residential development legislation
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Dozens of Native Hawaiians gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to rally support for legislation that would let a state agency pursue a residential plan in a rapidly growing Honolulu community.
Senate Bill 3122 and House Bill 2554 would allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to pursue residential development on at least three of the 10 parcels it owns in Kakaako Makai. Both measures would eliminate restrictions placed on the land eight years ago and enable OHA to commission a master plan for the area. If passed, the legislation would allow OHA to maximize the value of land it now owns as part of an estimated $200 million settlement with the state to resolve a longstanding dispute over ceded land revenues.
"Our vision and mission is really to increase the vibrancy and conditions of Native Hawaiians," said Kamaana'opono Crabbe, CEO of OHA. "So this particular bill is very crucial to the future of our financial stability and for us achieving our goals of the OHA."
The House and Senate negotiators discussed the bills during a conference committee meeting, but did not reach an agreement. Although both sides passed similar bills in the past, House legislators expressed concerns about potential reduced access to the shoreline as well as the impact of high rise residential construction on neighboring properties.
"We know we need to develop residential, but we also realize the sensitivity of the community and access to the shorelines for surfers and family," Crabbe said. "But right now, what's really crucial to our trustees and organizations is we can't move forward unless we know what the parameters are."
Crabbe said the agency will be able to set parameters as soon as the bill is passed.
Lawmakers plan to discuss the bill once again on Wednesday. In the meantime, OHA said it believes this bill is key to improving Hawaii's economy in the long run.
"What we want to strive for is what we empower in ourselves as Native Hawaiians," Crabbe said. "We hope to be part of that community of building Hawaii's future together."