Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Act 55 (2011), Hawaii's Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC)

Source: Wikipedia
With all the sturm und drang surrounding the creation of the PLDC by the legislature (Act 55 (2011)), it is easy to lose sight of what Act 55 actually says.  For better or worse, here is a Reader's Digest version of Act 55.  Unless otherwise indicated, quotations indicate language quoted from Act 55.

The PLDC is the newly created "development arm of the department of land and natural resources (DLNR)."  According to DLNR's Web site, its mission statement is as follows:  "Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of visitors and the people of Hawaii nei in partnership with others from the public and private sectors."  A portion of the monies earned from PLDC activities are deposited into the Hawaii public land development revolving fund, which ostensibly helps DLNR achieve its mission.

The PLDC is authorized to "identify the public lands that are suitable for development . . carry on marketing analysis to determine the best revenue-generating programs for the public lands identified, enter into public-private agreements to appropriately develop the public lands identified, and provide the leadership for the development, financing, improvement, or enhancement of the selected development opportunities."  In particular, Act 55 enumerates the following non-exhaustive list of "[p]ermissible uses . . . office space; vehicular parking; commercial uses; hotel, residential, and timeshare uses; fueling facilities; storage and repair facilities; and seawater air conditioning plants."

There are five board of directors: chairperson of the board of land and natural resources; director of finance; director of business, economic development, and tourism; and one member each appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate.  The board appoints an executive director who may appoint officers, agents, and employees.

Various powers to develop public land are granted to the PLDC, such as the ability to make and execute contracts and sue and be sued.  The PLDC has several financing mechanisms at its disposal, including the power to issue revenue bonds (with the approval of the governor).  It can "[o]wn, hold, improve, and rehabilitate any real, personal, or mixed property acquired; and sell, assign, exchange, transfer, convey, lease, or otherwise dispose of, or encumber the same[.]"  PLDC can partner with "qualified persons or other governmental agencies[.]"

The PLDC must "prepare the Hawaii public land optimization plan, which shall define and establish goals, objectives, policies, and priority guidelines for its public land optimization development strategy."  Act 55 provides that the plan must include the following five elements: inventory of public lands, protection of culturally-sensitive areas, feasible strategies for the promotion and marketing of any projects, information on market demands and trends, and strategies for federal and state legislative actions.

The PLDC must coordinate with county governments and private landowners.  "[P]ublic land planning activities of the corporation shall be coordinated with the county planning departments and the county land use plans, policies, and ordinances."  "Any undertaking by the corporation . . . shall be with the express written consent of the landowner or landowners directly affected."

Projects developed by the PLDC are "exempt from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules of any government agency relating to special improvement district assessments or requirements; land use, zoning, and construction standards for subdivisions, development, and improvement of land; and the construction, improvement, and sale of homes thereon; provided that the public land planning activities of the corporation shall be coordinated with the county planning departments and the county land use plans, policies, and ordinances."

With regard to hotel projects, Act 55 applies HRS §171-42, which provides as follows "[w]here public land disposed of for hotel or resort use is adjacent to any beach, waterway, or historic monument or landmark, the disposition shall be subject to reservations of public right-of-way or public access at all times to such beach, waterway, historic monument, or landmark."  Under HRS §171-42, in certain circumstances the PLDC can sell the fee for state land "with the prior approval of the governor, and subject to disapproval by the legislature by two-thirds vote of either the senate or the house of representatives or by majority vote of both[.]"

The terms and provisions of Act 55 will be further defined through rule-making.  To learn more about PLDC's rule-making process, visit http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/pldc.

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