By Shar Chun-Lum
HCR 129 would convene a working group to discuss future development plans for Kakaʻako Makai and identify public lands of comparable value for a possible land exchange for some or all of OHA’s 10 parcels at Kakaʻako Makai.
These are not “public lands” anymore. Once the state offered and conveyed these Kakaʻako Makai lands as a fraction of the payment owed to OHA in 2012, they became Native Hawaiian trust lands.
Would the legislature entertain the idea of creating legislatively formed groups to advise Howard Hughes (aka Ward Villages), the Kobayashi Group, or Blackfield’s Ala Moana Group on how they should develop their lands?
Why should OHA be treated differently from other private landowners?
OHA has the right to determine the responsible use of their own lands. In OHA’s case, however, their efforts are not for private gain, but for the betterment of the Hawaiian people through programs and services.
On Insights on PBS Hawaiʻi, which aired on March 26, Sen. Sharon Moriwaki said she always envisioned OHA’s land to be kept open, for “yoga or other recreational uses for the public.”
This ignores the fact that the state’s appraisal, done by the Hallstrom Group, assessed the value of the Kakaʻako Makai lands by assuming a 400 foot height limit for Parcels E and I, located on Ala Moana Blvd., which is twice the current allowable height for these parcels.
The state presented OHA with the value of $198 Million based on that appraisal – and OHA has the fidicuary responsibility to use the land to its best and highest use for the benefit of the Native Hawaiian people. Kakaʻako Waterfront Park already is available to the public for access to the beach and open spaces for relaxation.
Regarding the discussion of a suitable land exchange, OHA previously sought such lands but nothing was forthcoming until Kakaʻako Makai was offered. HCR 129 suggests this proposed group would come up with recommendations regarding which lands might be exchanged. In the meantime, would OHA be prevented from moving forward with development on their land?
Hawaiian beneficiaries will continue to wait – for assistance to get an education, a home, a good job – while this working group “advises” OHA as to what they can do with the lands meant to provide services to the Hawaiian people.
HCR 129 is overreach. OHA will already need to meet with the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority regarding its plans and the public can weigh in at that time.
Let OHA decide who it wants to invite to the table to discuss what to do with the land – that would be in the best interest of the Hawaiian people and the community at large. That would be the pono thing to do.
This working group will further delay OHA’s ability to generate income for services and programs for Native Hawaiians who have suffered for more than 125 years at the hands of “government.” Nuff already.
Shar Chun-Lum, a graduate and former educator at Kamehameha Schools, was an administrator with the Department of Health before becoming the executive director of Papa Ola Lōkahi. Now retired, she spends time at Ala Moana Beach Park and ʻIolani Palace where she volunteers as a docent.