- In 1978, the people of Hawaiʻi voted to create the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Hawaiʻi’s constitution established OHA’s right to a portion of the Public Land Trust (ceded lands), however, many issues relating to the fair allocation of Public Land Trust revenues remain unresolved.
- OHA is the constitutionally established body responsible for protecting and promoting the rights of Native Hawaiians with a focus on improving the conditions of Native Hawaiians by providing resources and advocating for Native Hawaiians on a range of issues.
- In 2012, OHA and the state agreed to settle the state’s 32-year past-due Public Land Trust revenue debt by conveying 30 acres of land in Kakaʻako Makai to OHA. The state’s appraiser valued the land at approximately $198 million, assuming a 400 foot height limit for Parcels E and I, which is double the current building height limit of 200 feet.
- During the 2012 Legislative Session, several legislators pushed for OHA’s past due public land trust settlement bill to include the ability to develop residential housing at Kakaʻako Makai.
- On Feb. 8, 2012, then OHA Chair Colette Machado sent a letter to Sen. Brickwood Galuteria stating that while OHA preferred “a cash settlement,” the settlement bill provided OHA with “an opportunity to obtain land assets that can provide a revenue stream that will increase OHA’s capacity to deliver programs and services to our beneficiaries.”
- Legislators friendly to OHA wanted to push for amendments to the settlement bill that would allow for residential development on some of the parcels. However, they did not have widespread support. Given the political landscape at the time, and the fact that no other settlement offers were on the table, OHA opted to accept the deal despite the existing limitations on development. This decision ensured OHA’s acquisition of 30 acres of prime real estate and allowed time to initiate master planning and consult with land use experts to determine what types of development would work best for OHA – with a long-term objective of returning to the legislature the following year to request specific land use rights for those properties.
- Ultimately, the settlement bill was enacted unamended, resulting in OHA’s acquisition of 30 acres of land in Kakaʻako Makai.
In November 2013, OHA’s planning consultants developed a “Draft Framework Plan” for OHA’s Kakaʻako Makai lands that explored numerous development scenarios.
The Draft Framework Plan report noted that under the existing legislated use of the property, the value of the land was $91 million, not the nearly $200 million the state’s appraisers had estimated.
The Draft Framework Plan report recommended that as OHA begins master planning for its Kakaʻako lands, it should also seek proper legislated use to include housing.
OHA’s Board of Trustees adopted the Kakaʻako Makai Policy to ensure that cultural and stewardship values drive design and use decisions, balancing pono and commerce and prioritizing the creation of a Hawaiian sense of place.
- During the 2014 Legislative Session, OHA pursued legislation to lift the residential prohibition on certain Kakaʻako Makai lands to continue discussions that began in 2012. The effort was unsuccessful.
- In 2015, OHA conducted statewide meetings to engage the community and inform the Conceptual Master Planning process.
- In 2016, OHA conducted statewide meetings to share its Conceptual Master Plan with the community. At the time, OHA indicated it would move forward with planning based on what current law allows to expedite progress while continuing to look for opportunities to reopen the permissible uses discussion.
- With new board and administrative leadership, and a drastically changing and challenging economic environment, OHA is taking a fresh look at its previous plans for Kakaʻako Makai.
- The ability to develop residential buildings at Kakaʻako Makai would provide critical revenue and housing opportunities for the Native Hawaiian community. A well-planned Kakaʻako Makai can help stimulate the economy and contribute to the revitalization of Honolulu’s urban core.
- During the 2021 Legislative Session, OHA seeks to re-open discussions with lawmakers about how we can further the state’s commitment to address historical and continuing injustices against the Native Hawaiian people.
- SB1334 will provide OHA the freedom to develop Honolulu’s core into something Hawaiʻi can be proud of while, at the same time, promoting Hawaiian financial self-sufficiency by generating revenues to lift Kānaka Maoli out of enduring economic hardship.