Monday, March 24, 2008

Molokai Ranch Closing Its Doors

The Molokai Ranch will mothball its properties and close its doors by the end of March according to its official press release.

The Molokai Ranch owns approximately 65,000 acres of the 165,800 acre island of Molokai (pop. 7,404). The Ranch includes 22 Luxury Rooms, 40 Beach Front Tentalows, and an 18 Holes of Golf. Other portions of the Ranch's land holdings are leased to the county for public uses; e.g., parks.

In the past several years, the Molokai community has staunchly opposed the Ranch's efforts to build 200 homes, open space, and conservation areas around La'au Point on the west coast of the island. La'au Point is one component of the Community-Based Master Land Use Plan for Molokai Ranch, which calls for:

[L]imited development on MPL's 60,000+ acres, restrictions on water use, the re-opening of the abandoned Kaluakoi Hotel creating more than 100 jobs and MPL donating in excess of 26,000 acres to a Molokai Land Trust and a Community Development Corporation. MPL will also covenant another 24,000 acres with restrictive easements.[5]
The La'au Point proposal met opposition during the early phases of proceedings before the state land use commission, where it sought to reclassify 1,432 acres from Agricultural to Rural, Agricultural to Conservation; and Conservation to Agricultural. The project never got past the Draft EIS stage, due to public outcry.

As a consequence of the shut down, the Ranch will layoff approximately 120 employees with more likely to follow. The public will also lose the proposed 100 jobs that the La'au Project would have created. With the lowest household income in the state (the Molokai median income is $41,000 – just 60 percent of the Maui median of $67,500), it looks like both Molokai and the Ranch lost something in this recent Hawaii style land use brawl.

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