Testimony in Strong Support of a complete and full repeal of the PLDC
RE: Applies to all items on the 9am agenda I’m supporting HB 1133 and HB 589 as the two bills that would repeal the PLDC. I’m also opposing HB 942, HB 219, HB 593, and HB 1134 because they don’t repeal the PLDC.
Aloha Chair Evans, Chair Luke, Vice Chair’s and Members,
My name is Gary Hooser. I am an elected member of the Kauai County Council testifying on my own behalf but also presenting Resolution 2012-52 from the Kauai County Council who voted unanimously in support of a complete repeal of Act 55 establishing the Public Land Development Corporation.
I urge you today to vote unanimously in support of a complete and full repeal of the PLDC.
The process, the policy and the politics of this issue have been so severely tainted that the only good option is a complete repeal – attempts to morph, amend or simply change the name are insufficient remedies and will not heal, repair or re-instill the public confidence which is what needs to happen now.
The process that created Act 55 and the PLDC and the subsequent process attempting to salvage and assuage public concerns, range from unconstitutional to insulting.
SB1555 was passed into law without the requisite three readings in each House and there was never a proper public hearing on the substance of the major amendments that significantly altered the content of the Bill. Clearly giving the public less than two hours public notice does not meet any reasonable standard that would satisfy the constitutional requirement.
Since then the process has continued to go awry as the PLDC stuttered through the rule-making process and attempted to convince the public that rules, policies, plans and good intentions would be sufficient to protect them from bad law.
In addition to the serious errors and mistakes made in the process that has led us to this point, the fundamental policy and the law supporting that policy is also seriously flawed.
Starting the conversation with a premise that public lands are a resource that should be developed as quickly and as profitably as possible and that we should set aside environmental and public interest protections in the interest of expediency – is a set up for a true tragedy of the commons. If anything, the opposite is true – our public lands should be held to the highest standard in terms of environmental and public interest protections and should be developed slowly if at all and then based only upon a long term community based vision rather than on short term profits.
While 80% of the potentially impacted lands are located on neighbor-islands, no neighbor-island representation was included on the PLDC Board and most of the meetings have been held on Oahu.
Many of the concerns about the PLDC also extend to all of the offered replacement Bills being heard today focused on a similar agenda – the lack of specificity, the lack of accountability, the vagueness of their mission and the concentration of control and decision making.
Of course the most obvious policy travesty with regards to the PLDC is that it is “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”.
The PLDC gets rid of all of these rules and basically says “trust me”.
In addition, it is my understanding that virtually all of the projects mentioned as examples of why we need the PLDC or similar entities can be accomplished without these exemptions, without the elimination of the public protections and without any new public/private development entity.
Bad process, bad policy and bad politics – Many in our community, especially our young people are increasingly distrustful and disengaged from the public process, and from government. The creation of the PLDC and all that that has followed since, has further alienated large numbers of our residents from all walks of life and on every island. These are good people who want to believe in the Democratic process and who we need to believe and to engage in our process – but who are now even more angry and more distrustful than ever.
Bad process, bad policy and bad politics have combined to make the perfect storm and the only way to calm this storm and to right the canoe that we always hear so much about – is to pass a complete and full repeal of the PLDC. No morphing or amending or name changing – the public wants to know that our lawmakers listen to them. The public believes that the “fix is in” and has little confidence in us or in the institutions in which we serve.
Please. Pass a full and complete repeal today and help restore the faith and confidence of the people of our State in their government and in the leaders whom they elect to serve.
Councilmember, Kauai County Council