The Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club said today it has launched a campaign to repeal a law passed by lawmakers last year which it maintains creates a semi-autonomous agency which is exempt from oversight by state and county governments.
The environmental organization wants lawmakers to repeal Act 55, which created the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC).
The PLDC was created in 2011 to develop public lands to generate additional revenue for the state.
However, Sierra Club and others have expressed concern about the law’s no-bid contract provisions and what they maintain is the law’s slant toward developing public resources instead of conservation.
“The Sierra Club and its members have gone to great lengths to work with the PLDC, including proposing ways to reasonably improve the draft administrative rules,” said Robert D. Harris, Sierra Club Hawaii chapter director. “These suggestions have largely been ignored. With the PLDC’s recent efforts to exclude the public from commenting and the adoption of a toothless strategic plan, it appears our only alternative is to push for a repeal of the PLDC.”
The Sierra Club and several partner organization have created a website, grandtheftaina.com, that lists general election candidates and their positions on repealing the PLDC.
A developer who hopes to build 3,500 homes makai of the H-2 freeway says farmers working on the land have found another place to plant.
Bruce Barrett, executive vice president of residential operations for Castle & Cooke Hawaii, said the farmers will have an equivalent piece of land and could seek more with the landowner, Dole.
Castle & Cooke is trying to address several impacts arising from its planned community, called Koa Ridge, including the displacement of farmers.
The developer will appear before the Land Use Commission on Thursday as part of the ongoing process to receive a permit converting agricultural land to urban land.
The developer addressed some concerns about its project at a community forum on Wednesday sponsored by the Mililani Neighborhood Board and the Sierra Club.
Those two groups are intervenors against the petition, which would allow the developer to build the homes and 500,000 square feet of commercial development.
The neighborhood board plans to support the development if the Land Use Commission imposes conditions on the developer that address traffic, education, affordable housing and other impacts on the community.
The Sierra Club, however, opposes the project because it displaces farming businesses and destroys agricultural land for more homes.