Editor’s note: Former Mayor Harry Kim is leading an effort to repeal Act 55, which created the controversial Public Land Development Corporation. The following is written testimony Kim presented last week to the state Legislature.
By HARRY KIM
This letter is written in strong support of the full repeal, not amendment, of Act 55, which in 2011 created the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC). I urge the committees to pass HB1133 and HB589, which would accomplish this.
It is not often that so many from all islands of Hawaii have united to express feelings of disapproval of the actions of their government.
The expressions of disapproval are accompanied by dismay on how and why Act 55, which created the PLDC, was passed and signed into law.
I would like to take this opportunity to share my views on this widespread and growing movement of Hawaii’s people voicing disapproval of Act 55. I do feel that the core cause of this people’s movement is the feeling of disconnect of people and their government, and with that the loss of trust.
Act 55 seems to be the catalyst that has triggered so many to publicly demonstrate their feelings of distrust and disconnect. The creation of the PLDC presented the platform for people to question openly the workings of their government.
— Why was there so little public awareness and opportunity for involvement in discussions on such an important issue that concerned all state lands?
— Why were there so few if any communications with county governments when this Act affected so much of county jurisdiction and the taking away of local authority, and with that, opportunities for meaningful people’s input?
— Why was Act 55 passed with such expediency that so few were even aware of it?
— Why is so much authority given to so few in the major use of all public lands? Where are the checks and balances? It is noted that the PLDC is governed by only five board members, three of whom are state department heads and one each appointed by the Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives.
— Why should the PLDC be exempt from existing county and state laws and regulations regarding special improvement district assessments?
— Why is the PLDC exempt from all state and county land use laws, including county zoning ordinances and the state Land Use Commission?
— Why is the PLDC exempt from county building permits?
The only reason given publicly so far to justify Act 55, which created the Public Land Development Corporation, was the need to raise money for the public good. I find it very difficult to understand and accept that an Act was created that gave so much authority over public lands to five people with no checks and balances, and justified for the reason of raising needed money.
Surely the goal of money for our good must be balanced with preserving Hawaii’s unique social and so very special environment.
Surely the use of our public lands must be balanced with responsibilities to cultural and spiritual care of Hawaii.
Surely the authority of land use must be balanced with the fairness and trust of the application of laws to all.
Surely local county government laws such as building permits and zoning codes should be adhered to and respected.
Surely lifestyles, people’s involvement and local land use laws are of importance and must be considered.
In recent weeks of travel to Maui, Molokai, Oahu and communities on Hawaii Island, I have experienced a growing feeling of disconnect and distrust of people with their government.
Feelings that their government and its decisions are made not for people of this land, not for the care of the land, but rather for special interest groups or for short term benefits.
Along with these feelings of disconnect and the lack of trust is a loss of hope that their concerns, lifestyles, their hardships and cares of this earth are of any importance.
We must all be on guard against actions and behavior that will add to the disconnect and distrust of our government. We must say stop to those that do.
I ask for understanding that this is not just an issue of public lands and its authority, this is also about the relationship between the people and their government.
This is of the hope and belief that we all seek, that our government will be fair and do what is right by law and a sense of what is right. This is at the heart of the relationship between people and their government. This is a matter of trust.
I ask for the repeal of Act 55.