HILO — For the second time in six months, the Hawaii County Council voted unanimously to send a message to the state Legislature that the county opposes threats to its home-rule powers posed by the Public Land Development Corp.
The vote Wednesday follows a similar vote by the previous council in September. But Wednesday’s measure, Resolution 45, differs in that it specifies support of two particular bills currently making their way through the Legislature.
Sen. Malama Solomon, the Waimea Democrat who was one of the authors of the PLDC legislation in 2011, has stated she will not be hearing SB 1, abolishing the PLDC, in the Senate Water and Land Committee she chairs.
A staff member said Wednesday that Solomon is waiting for the House version, HB 8, to come over from the lower chamber. She couldn’t be reached for comment.
Solomon will likely get an earful about her stance at a town hall meeting scheduled for 5:15 p.m. today at the Waimea School Cafeteria.
Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, the sponsor of Resolution 45, said she thinks the Legislature will pay attention to the resolution, even though it is nonbinding.
“They know they have to pay attention to the neighbor islands, and the people here are not in the dark as to what’s going on,” Wille said. “It is important for our county to make a stand with this council.”
Puna Councilman Zendo Kern agreed with Wille.
“I am vehemently opposed to taking away our home rule,” Kern said.
The PLDC was created to form public-private partnerships between the state and private companies in order to generate funds for the Department of Land and Natural Resources while developing public lands.
But opponents worry the PLDC, governed by a five-member appointed board, simply has too much power.
“PLDC turns our public beaches, parks and schools over to private developers. PLDC can probably ignore county planning and zoning ordinances, county building permit requirements, subdivision rules and regulations and community development plans,” said Cory Harden, of the Moku Loa Group of the Sierra Club. “On Resolution 45, we agree with its conclusion that PLDC cannot be fixed, but needs to be fully repealed.”
The House Water and Land and Finance committees will be hearing one of the House measures on Saturday. HB 219 amends PLDC’s powers but doesn’t abolish it. Wille said she plans to go to Honolulu to testify at that committee meeting.