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Sunday, March 17, 2013
PPPA: PLDC Bait and Switch? Next Hearing March 19
By Andrew Walden @ 9:34 PM :: 4383 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Tax Credits

PPPA: PLDC Bait and Switch?  Next Hearing March 19

by Andrew Walden and Mary Smart

The public protested the establishment of the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC), ACT 55 but as quickly as demands for repeal of Act 55 were heard, legislators introduced a bill to establish a Public Private Partnership Authority (PPPA). Will SB215 SD3 be a good example of the bait (PLDC) and switch (PPPA)?  Pages and pages of legislative testimony say that is exactly what is coming.

The Public-Private Partnership Authority established under SB215 SD3 would be composed of five voting members: The State Comptroller, Director of Finance, Director of DBEDT and one member each appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. The aha moku advisory committee member for the island on which any project is located is assigned as an ex-officio non-voting member in matters dealing with that project. Ahu moku, established on 9 July 2012 as Act 288, is comprised of eight members assigned by the Governor signed into law by Governor Abercrombie on July 9, 2012.

The bill grants any public agency the option to transfer management rights for projects under its jurisdiction to PPPA “notwithstanding HRS171” but states: “The public-private partnership authority shall neither plan nor implement any projects other than the pilot projects nor enter into any agreements or contracts related to the planning or implementation of any projects other than the pilot projects identified in this part.”

The ‘pilot projects’ are:  

  • A film production facility on state lands on Maui
  • A main-street project on state lands in Wahiawa
  • One county initiated project

Interestingly, a company known as Maui Film Studios, LLC earlier this month signed a lease on a central Maui warehouse which it plans to outfit as Hawaii’s largest film studio. Will PPPA undermine this endeavor by creating state-subsidized competition—or is PPPA intended to subsidize a future move by Maui Film Studios to a state-owned location?

Why does the State DoT need a PPPA to redesign state-owned streets in downtown Wahiawa?  DoT already has the authority to do this.

And what will be the “county initiated project”?  Earlier language specified a project in each county. 

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs testified in opposition to language exempting the PPPA from HRS171 explaining: 

“HRS Ch. 171 provides a complete statutory scheme for governing the fiduciary duties of the State of Hawaiʻi for managing and disposing of its most valuable resources – its public lands – which are held in trust for native Hawaiians and the public. “The overall purpose of this chapter [HRS 171] and particularly of those sections dealing with the lease of public lands is to preserve the assets of the State and to provide” guidance to the State “in the management of these assets.”  OHA’s administration objects to the provision authorizing the transfer of management rights”, to the extent that the provision seeks to empower the PPPA to bypass HRS Ch. 171.”

The big question is whether exemptions from state land use laws and environmental regulations will be slipped into the text of SB215 in an upcoming hearing.  This is how the PLDC was created in the first place. Earlier versions of the bill contained language, “Allowing the counties to waive zoning ordinances by ordinance or memorandum of agreement for a project prior to project construction.”  This was stripped out by the Senate Committee on Economic Development --chaired by PLDC maven Donovan Dela Cruz-- earlier this month.

And the PLDC is not pau yet.  As OHA points out:  

At this time there are two measures moving in both houses of the Hawai’i State Legislature that would repeal the law that created the Public Land Development Corporation. Until the issue of the PLDC’s continued existence is resolved, this measure may be premature.

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa testified in support of PPPA, contingent that “the law relating to the Public Land Development Corporation be repealed.”

The next hearing is before House EDB, Tuesday March 19 at 9am.

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