Category Archives: Working With the System

Approaching the existing governmental bodies and laws, to effectively and cooperatively bring change.

Please sign, share, forward…

A draft of an Alternative Building Code is stalled in the Dept of Public Works…

help ask Mayor Kenoi to move it forward!

It is common knowledge, since the controversy over Bill 270, that alternative building legislation has broad support island wide and is long overdue. It has the potential to offer great relief to the occupants of over 7,000 non-compliant homes and to County staff that have the impossible task of enforcing the current building codes.

Councilman Zendo Kern has researched and written a draft for an alternative building code bill and submitted it to DPW for their review and comments, but nothing has happened for a long time.


The Department of Public Works has sidelined this initiative and has effectively stalled the process.


In Hawaii, the building codes are hugely complex and create big extra expenses for small owner/builders.  They require buildings to be overbuilt for this mild climate, mandating construction techniques that are not needed here and materials that must be shipped in from far away.  We want to be able to build with local and recycled materials, using innovative techniques.

Thousands of people have simply chosen to quietly build their own homes with no permits or codes.  These people live in fear that they will be reported.  The county policy is to ignore the many people living this way until there is a complaint, and then the laws are selectively enforced.

Help us ask Hawaii Mayor Kenoi to get this moving!

Thanks so much!

Graham Ellis,

Chairperson, Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance


What happened to HB111? in 2013

On March 21, the Senate Water and Land and Public Safety Committees held a joint hearing on the Sustainable Living Research Act bill. They voted to defer it. This means the bill is no longer alive this session. Senator Malama Solomon, the Water and Land Committee Chair acknowledged the substantial amount of written testimony in support of the bill. Elizabeth Dunne, an environmental attorney who has been helping the Alliance with the bill’s language and lobbying efforts, provided live testimony in support and answered committee members’ questions.

While the legislators supported the concept, they were ultimately concerned about a number of issues raised by the counties who testified in opposition. County of Hawaii’s Planning Director, who testified in person against the bill, cited concerns about enforcement and liability and questioned whether the planning department was the best entity to administer the permit process.

The great news is that we got pretty far this year — through all the House committees!!

This means that the bill will start in the Senate next year. Moving forward, we need to: (1) further engage the planning departments of all counties to address their concerns about the sustainable living research site act permit process; (2) continue to educate the legislators on this important issue; (3) build a network of supporters on all islands; and (4) work on the language of the bill to best achieve our objectives while accounting for the concerns raised by interested parties.


What is the status of HB111

Dear Ones,

Thanks all for your work with this site.  I was just newly directed to it today by Terra of the Hawaiian Sanctuary.

I have a large parcel of land, 84 acres, near Leilani yet under current laws and because of county water regulations it can have only one home on it.

Will someone(s) please post the status of HB111 since public comment ended on 3/21/2013?

I can find nothing on this site or on the government linked web site?

From over an hour reading articles and posts on your site and the government HB111 pages, it sounds like if HB111 is approved then the 84 acres could be parceled into 15 acre sections to meet the requirement of this Bill.  If this bill has passed the house does it have to go through the senate?  Regulations be written and signed it to law?  How long might this process take?  I know next to nothing of government processes.

Mahalo Nui,

Uncle Chucka



Public Protest Too Much For PLDC?

By Dave Smith

A protest over the Public Land Development Corporation. Photo courtesy Hawaii News Now.

It looks like it will be try, … again for the Public Land Development Corporation.

The controversial new state agency designed to increase revenues from state lands using public-private partnerships is continuing its efforts to establish its administrative rules.

Following statewide hearings in August, the agency revised the guidelines and added a strategic plan.

The PLDC’s five-member board met on Thursday and voted to take the amended rules to public hearing.

However, only one of those is planned, on Nov. 13, and that will be on Oahu.

Lloyd Haraguchi, the PLDC’s executive director, was not available for comment on why other islands were not included in the schedule.

According to a statement from the PLDC, even though state law required only one hearing be held, the agency’s board of directors in August took the “extra step” of holding hearings statewide. The reason, it said, was to familiarize the public with the new state entity.

Now the PLDC says it will hold an additional public hearing on the amended rules, as required by law.

The rules can be viewed at, and “any member of the public may submit advance testimony via email or USPS mail by Tuesday, November 13,” the agency said.

“The PLDC remains committed to transparency, and its newly adopted strategic plan, project flowchart and rule amendments show that opportunities for public comment actually expand under the PLDC for potential projects,” the statement said.

But one can’t help but wonder if the primary reason for not taking the revised rules on the road is that the PLDC – and its director – have had their fill of the rough reception they received across the state.

The first time the agency took the draft rules out for public hearings, it encountered large and hostile crowds.

And recent public protests across the state drew hundreds of participants.

Sierra Club Chapter Director Robert Harris described the PLDC’s decision to hold only one public hearing a “new low” for the agency. He went on to say that Haraguchi was “insulting thousands of neighbor island residents by excluding them from the process.”

Much of the criticism has centered on a section of state law exempting the PLDC from “land use, zoning, and construction standards for subdivisions, development, and improvement of land.”

The mission of the PLDC has been called everything from a land-grab, to anti-democratic, to Nazi-ism.

Despite the revision of rules and addition of a strategic plan, county councils on the neighbor islands are all expected to unanimously pass resolutions seeking to abolish the Public Land Development Corp.

Nor did the changes soothe those testifying when the Hawaii County Council overwhelmingly approved its version of a resolution urging Gov. Neil Abercrombie to repeal Section 171C of Hawaii Revised Statutes — also known as Act 55, the law that created the PLDC.


Sustainable Living Resolution, October 2nd

The Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance is working towards amending current laws to allow more eco-friendly practices, communities and buildings.

This resolution (302-12) urges the Hawaii State Legislature enact legislation to establish Sustainable Living Research Sites on parcels less than 15 acres that are designated “agricultural” under state law in Hawaii. It would allow applicants to request exemptions from County Codes for approved sustainable living research activities.

This would provide a way for people to come into compliance, and be able to learn about new ways of living that are ecological. They could work on how to: conserve and harvest fresh water; conserve and improve topsoil without expensive or toxic inputs; increase local food quality and security using organic methods and local materials; increase biodiversity and protect wildlife; provide onsite waste treatment and recycling with minimal or zero air and surface or ground water pollution, and many other techniques.

Why did the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance propose the Sustainable Living test sites on parcels up to 15 acres? A number of you have asked us this. We put that in our resolution because the County council only has jurisdiction over parcels of up to 15 acres. Over that size, the State Land Use Bureau in Oahu has to make the decisions. So our resolution is only for the county level. Please email or come and testify that you like this proposal, but you would rather have it apply to larger parcels. We would like to change the wording to be “parcels more than one acre”. We need your help to ask for that change. Thanks ! Amara


What Exactly is the Problem with PLDC? Where do we begin?

comments on proposed administrative rules for Public Land Development Corporation

for hearing Monday, August 20, 2012, 6 PM, Waiakea High School Cafeteria, Hilo

by Cory Harden, PO Box 10265, Hilo, Occupied Hawai’i 96721  808-968-8965



The “21st Century Mahele”. That’s what some people are calling PLDC. PLDC was snuck into a bill at the tail end of a State legislative session with no chance for public testimony. Senators Solomon and Dela Cruz want to use PLDC to support geothermal and building in rural areas. 


Hawai’i has other quasi-governmental development agencies, like the Hawai’i Community Development Authority and Aloha Tower Development Corporation. They have a poor track record of repeated problems.


PLDC is jumping the gun, perhaps illegally, on two counts.

·         First, PLDC is acting on projects even though these rules are not finalized. That means no direction on how PLDC operates, and no criteria for selecting projects-a perfect setup for sweetheart deals.


·         Second, PLDC is acting on projects before doing an inventory, as required, of all public lands.


Under the most appalling draft rules, these scenarios are allowed:

·         PLDC can take land and terminate leases. 302-27(9), 303-38


·         There’s only one hearing, with only six days’ notice, at the Board of Land and Natural Resources, for leases, and transferring land and development rights, from the state to private entities. 


·         Projects can ignore state and county land use designations, zoning ordinances, building codes;  community development plans; and other legal requirements. 302-27 (10) (12) (15)


·         Neighbors of projects can be forced to install costly underground utilities on just 30 days’ notice. If they don’t, state or private workers can come on their property and do the work. The project neighbor gets the bill and just 30 days to pay. If they don’t, the state requires installment payments. If those aren’t made, there’s a penalty, and PLDC can put a lien on the property. You’d need a lawyer to contest anything. 303-11, 303-12, 303-21, 303-24, 303-25, 303-53, 303-54,



·         Project neighbors can be also forced to build and fix sidewalks.


·         Decisions can be made by just two PLDC members meeting behind closed doors. (Instead, four should be required for a vote to meet in executive session, and for a quorum. 301-6 , 301-9)


·         Taxpayer money will bankroll private development (issuing bonds, investing for seed capital, providing grants and loans and other monetary assistance, buying securities to assist developers) 302-52, 302-61)


·         PLDC can invest more than half a million dollars in a private enterprise, and can own more than half of the enterprise. 302-63, 302-68


In short, PLDC seriously oversteps the bounds of government. It sells out the ‘aina, the culture, and the people to local and transnational corporations. PLDC should be abolished.







More than half of Hawai’i’s people want more land preservation, not more development, according to a recent Civil Beat poll.


There should be a mechanism to evaluate the cumulative impact of multiple projects done by PLDC and others.


Criteria for selecting projects should be more specific to avoid bribes, favoritism, and other devious actions.


PLDC should be required to get county input on proposals.


PLDC should be sure there is legal access to adequate water for projects.


The presiding officer for a hearing should be an independent hearing officer, not the chairperson or their representative. 301-2


There should be a right to hearing if an action or decision for a remote area, like Mauna Kea or a forest reserve, affects the public in general. 301-51 (b)


Developers who have been sanctioned or who broke the law-especially ethical, environmental, land use, safety, labor, or civil rights laws-should be prohibited from working with PLDC. 302-24


PLDC should be required to do hearings on the affected island re. proposals.   302-28


At least three public meetings near the affected area should be held for proposals for coastal lands.



PLDC should be required to hold developers to promises. This will address PLDC’s conflict of interest if developers break promises, since PLDC will lose money if a project fails. Past broken promises: Hokulia, Ko Olina, Haseko ‘Ewa Maine, Knudsen’s Village, Turtle Bay. 302-32


Projects should “not unduly burden existing water systems, sewage and other waste disposal systems, transportation systems, roadway, drainage, street lighting, open spaces, parks, and other recreational areas, public utilities, and public services” or should include “as part of the proposed project, the development of such systems, facilities, and services at reasonable cost”  302-35 (8)


Projects should have no significant impact under the National Environmental Policy Act. 302-35 (8)


PLDC should research the environmental and legal record of each enterprise. 302-65


PLDC should not assist developers with fees. 302-68


Counties should not face unexpected burdens from improvements built by PLDC and transferred to the county. 303-40


Counties and water departments should not be required to pay for water and sewer connections, roads, sidewalks, street lights, and other improvements.  303-40, 303-41


Water departments should not face unexpected burdens from improvements built by PLDC and transferred to the departments. 303-41




Don’t allow unchecked development of Public lands

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2012 22:58:52 -1000


From: Amara Karuna <>

Subject: Love the Land, Use your voice ASAP- pls forward

X-ELNK-Trace: 4e6b850a59a335f2d4c20f6b8d69d888b7f3a87d4e9c50f1966bbc449cd7964fcb321374d4726f44350badd9bab72f9c350badd9bab72f9c350badd9bab72f9c


X-ELNK-Received-Info: spv=0;


X-ELNK-Info: sbv=1; sbrc=-0; sbf=eb; sbw=010;


If you love Hawaii, and want to protect our public lands from unsupervised commercial and energy development – it’s the time to say so!   Even if you usually never get politically involved… the land needs your voice now.


This can affect your neighborhood… please read!


Please forward this to all your friends on all the islands- it affects everyone.

See below on how to voice your opinions.


Is This A Good Idea?

A corporation for development of public lands, exempt from taxes, zoning, building or land use laws?

Report by Amara Karuna

Monday, August 20th, 2012


Should businesses get out of following all those pesky laws that we locals have to?

Should they be able to build what they want without getting comments from the neighbors?   And then charge the costs to the people living nearby?   And not pay any state taxes at all?

And who really owns those public lands anyway?  Does the state really have the authority to give them away or do they belong to the Hawaiian people?  And who decides what projects happen, under what criteria?

These are only a few of the questions raised by the passing of Act 55, which created a corporation to encourage private development on our public lands.  This bill was rushed through the Hawaii State government in record time… it took only 3 days to vote it in and sign it.  There was no time for public commentary.

Over 100 concerned citizens of all kinds attended a meeting in Hilo on Monday, to give feedback on the proposed administrative guidelines under which the Public Lands Development Corporation (“PLDC”) is to operate.

Every person testifying was strongly against of what is being proposed, and many spoke with heartfelt depth and well considered points.  It was one of the most inspiring political gatherings I have ever witnessed.  There was a tangible feeling of solidarity and fierce protectiveness of our beautiful home.  If you are feeing intimidated and overwhelmed by the politics on your island, try attending one of these for support.  I felt proud to be living here with these strong, dedicated, spiritually aware people.


This was only the first of several public hearings that are being held, and I urge you to take the time to go to the ones on your island, and to send your opinion in writing, and to encourage all your friends to also do so.  As one woman said, “Don’t get angry, get busy!”

There is a bill being proposed to repeal this legislation.  Let’s put our power behind that.


The rocks, trees, oceans and creatures cannot speak for themselves.  We are their voice.


We have until Sept 14th to comment… please send your testimony sooner than later.



Hearing Schedule:


August 21 (6:00 p.m.) Kona (Konawaena High School Cafeteria)

August 24 (6:00 p.m.) Maui (Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria)

August 27 (6:00 p.m.) Molokai (Mitchell Pauole Community Center)

August 29 (6:00 p.m.) Oahu (Dept. of Land and Natural Resources Kalanimoku Building, Room 132)

August 31 (6:00 p.m.) Kauai (Elsie H. Wilcox Elementary School)


Can’t make it to these hearings? Please send your comments via written testimony to PLDC, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804, prior to Sept 14.


Make testimony brief, only a few sentences, and to the point.  Try to keep comments non-abusive and rational in language.


Please ask the “PLDC” to improve their draft administrative rules, which currently don’t adequately protect our environment, neighborhoods, and cultural traditions.


Email comments accepted prior to Sept 14 at – <> and  for those who are unable to provide in-person testimony.



So, you want the details?

State moves towards privatization and development of public lands without regard to zoning or land use laws


From the Sierra Club:


Tell the PLDC to protect OUR public land for future generations!


The PLDC can exempt development projects from normal oversight. The upcoming hearings are a terrific opportunity to ask the PLDC to establish common sense protections that protect our beaches, parks, and schools from greedy developers and development projects.

171C-19, (quoted below) is exempt from many requirements that affect other developers.


The PLDC is a vehicle to facilitate development on public land by providing special favors such as state money and permit avoidance.


The rules, as written, don’t require hearings on the Big Island, for example, if the PLDC wants to do a project on the island, Harris said. Nor would the corporation’s governing board be required to get the county’s input on any proposal, he added.  “Right now, they can essentially ignore the county,” Harris said.


When legislators were first discussing creating the corporation, people in support made vague promises that no “bad projects” would be approved, Harris said. The rules don’t spell out what kind of projects the corporation may pursue, nor do the rules give specific criteria for approving projects, he said. That is another cause for worry, he added.


The rules require, among other things, for counties to bear the cost of improvements in areas the corporation deems assessment areas and for county water supply boards to bear the cost of water improvements. The rules would allow the corporation to require “abutting property owners at their expense to construct, maintain and repair sidewalks and curbs in front of the abutting property.”  If the PLDC requires utility lines to be moved, neighboring property owners must then pay for new connections to the lines.


The proposed rules changes are available at The public may request a written copy of the rules by writing to the PLDC at PO Box 2359, Honolulu, Hawaii 96804.




In January of 2011 Samuel J. Lemmo, the Administrator for OCCL, Office of conservation and coastal lands gave a presentation about changes that they were making within conservation lands. This changes were marked as Sub-zones in the conservation lands.


“There will be many reasons given to sacrifice our pubic lands for all kinds of destructive activities such as drilling for water, geothermal and anything else they can make money off of as well as pushing too develop these lands for commercial purposes with little public or county meaningful input or participation.


This will spread and speed the destructive kind of developments we have seen particularly on Oahu and Maui like never before. Expediting the degradation of our remaining precious natural environment and way of life . The roads alone they make for these projects, wells and developments as we have see all over the Hawaiian islands are a huge threat to our remaining native forest.


Developments DNR has permitted in the past and will be pushing for now and in the future have devastated our forest, beaches, coastline, and other natural areas for corporate interest, the PDC will further and speed the progressive destruction of our environment.”



More from Robert:


Once the rules are made it will be much harder to object as they will argue this was your chance to be heard…..It is not just geothermal, it’s ammonia factories, hydrogen manufacturing, ocean strip mining, space ports or anything else they can come up with.


They want to charge you for improvements to “their” development and force you to pay through liens on your property. Landowners could lose their home or property if they do not have money, or want to pay who knows how much for improvements for the development that has nothing to do with them.


page 18,


They want to authorize the imposition of underground utility connection costs on private property without the landowners consent . The rules appear to wrongfully exceed the legislative authority in this regard. They are overstepping their authority.



If you have questions or information e-mail Robert Petricci  at <>

For those who want the specifics:

FYI the following information is to help prepare for the hearings:


The Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) created by last year’s legislature (Act 55, adding a new Chapter 171C to the Hawai`i Revised Statutes [HRS]) to exploit public lands commercially (pursuant to HRS § 171C-19, quoted below) is exempt from many requirements that affect other developers.  The PLDC is a vehicle to facilitate development on public land by providing special favors such as state money and permit avoidance.


Senate Resolution 25 (2012) urges the PLDC ‘to identify public trust land on the Islands of Hawaii and Maui with geothermal resources that may be developed”  and to “work with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop and implement geothermal projects on the Islands of Hawaii and Maui.”


Combining special favoritism through economic support and permit avoidance is consistent with how the State has treated geothermal development in the past, but now that approach is formalized in the PLDC to an extreme.




Notwithstanding section 171-42 and except as otherwise noted in this chapter, projects pursuant to this chapter shall be 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.

HRS § 171C-19

Voting against the legislation creating the PLDC were Representatives Awana, Belatti, Brower, Hanohano, Jordan, C. Lee, Luke, Saiki and Wooley plus Senator Ihara.



Sustainable Living Research Resolution proposal



Concerning Sustainable Living Research Sites in the State of Hawaii



The purpose of this Resolution is to support the worldwide transition to a livable, just, and sustainable civilization, by requesting and urging the Government of the State of Hawaii to enact legislation that would allow Hawaii’s County governments to permit the establishment and operation of “Sustainable Living Research Sites” on lands designated “agricultural” under state law [when the land involved is less than fifteen acres in size?].


A Sustainable Living Research Site is an area of land on which the legal owners and/or occupants are permitted to engage in activities and erect structures that might not otherwise be permitted under state and/or county law.




WHEREAS it is widely recognized that increases in human population, declining natural resources (topsoil, forests, fisheries, minerals, and fuels), rising levels of air and water pollution, climate change, unemployment, poverty, and other dangerously disruptive trends require immediate and creative responses by private and governmental entities of all sizes, at all levels; and


WHEREAS the “Hawaii 2050” plan calls upon all sectors and individuals to take action for the sustainability of the state’s economy, resources, environment, and quality of life; and


WHEREAS the County of Hawaii Resolution 249-09 adopted the “Sustainability Primer” which recognizes that there are “structural barriers that actually prevent people from being able to meet their own needs;” and


WHEREAS many citizens, families, organizations, and communities of Hawaii are ready, willing, and able to develop, test, refine, and implement a wide range of innovative methods, technologies, and holistic systems that increase the productivity, resilience, health, and sustainability of Hawaii’s economy, ecosystems, people, and culture; and


WHEREAS truly sustainable living frequently involves new and innovative methods, technologies, and holistic systems that conserve, harvest, and produce energy; increase net-negative CO2 output (“forests versus fires”); conserve and harvest fresh water; conserve and improve topsoil without expensive or toxic inputs; increase local food quality and security using organic methods and local materials; increase biodiversity and protect wildlife; provide onsite waste treatment and recycling with minimal or zero air and surface or ground water pollution; increase the supply of affordable housing by using on-site timber and re-using/recycling discarded/”waste” lumber, windows, plumbing supplies, and other manufactured goods; reduce the need for and use of imports from distant places while increasing the use and employment of local materials, labor, skills, and products; enrich neighborhood educational, vocational, and cultural opportunities for all ages while enhancing their experience of place and community; reduce the need for expensive public infrastructure and services; stimulate private investments in sustainable development; and


WHEREAS the development, testing, and refining of the aforesaid methods, technologies, and holistic systems for sustainable living frequently requires activities and structures that Hawaii’s County Governments might not be authorized to permit on lands designated “agricultural” under state law; and


WHEREAS a Sustainable Living Research Site is an area of land on which the legal owners and/or occupants are permitted to engage in activities and erect structures that might otherwise be prohibited or unduly constrained by state and/or county law;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Hawaii County Council supports the establishment of Sustainable Living Research Sites in Hawaii and hereby requests and urges the Government of the State of Hawaii to enact legislation which authorizes Hawaii’s County Governments to permit Sustainable Living Research Sites [on areas of less than fifteen acres?] on land designated “agricultural” under state law; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hawaii County Council will work with state officials to prepare and promote such legislation.




Have you broken these rules for contractors?

As usual most anything can be done legally (though not necessarily well) if one pays a lot of money to engineers and contractors.
Here is a relevant HAR DCCA chapter (77) regarding contractors:

Sixty (60!) pages. Starting on page 42 of the PDF is Exhibit A, specialty contractor classifications.

I haven’t tried to look up similar docs for engineer licensing. Too depressing.

In any case it’s obvious that in the alleged state of Hawai’i mere mortals who happen to know how cannot do anything “sustainable” in these domains. Only licensed engineers and contractors can. Legally, that is.

I wonder what percentage of Puna residents have *not* broken at least one of these rules?



Special Permit requirements for Farmers Markets

From: Graham Ellis
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2012 8:06 AM
To: Jeff Darrow
Planning Dept.

RE: Special Permit requirements for Farmers Markets and Community Buildings on land zoned Ag.

Dear Jeff,
Following our  Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance meeting yesterday l am writing to request your feedback on two further questions.

Regarding Ordinance 96-160 Chapter 25 Zoning
under Section 25-4-11 (c) it states “Community, public, and public service buildings, Public uses, structures and buildings and community buildings are permitted uses in any district provided (they conform to the general plan) and the director has issued plan approval for such use.

1. Does this mean that the Director can approve such plans ‘without’ the need for a Special Permit? Please clarify.

In Article 5 zoning District Regulations ‘Community Buildings’ are listed as permitted uses without need for a Special Permit in almost every zone except Section 25-5-72 Agricultural. At the Planning Commission meeting May 3rd the Planning Director said that it is an anomaly that Farmers Markets are not permitted uses on land zoned Ag and require Special Permits.
Mr. Ellis,

The following are responses to your questions:

Question No. 1:

The Planning Director cannot approve a use if the use requires a Special Permit under State Law, as in the case of community centers located in the State Land Use Agricultural District.

Additionally, Chapter 25-4-11 is currently incorrect.  These uses are not permitted in any district, as noted in Section 25-5-72, which lists Community Buildings needing a Special Permit in the County Ag and State Land Use Ag Districts.

Question No. 2

Even if a change was done in the County Zoning Code to allow community centers and farmers markets in the County Agricultural zoned districts, they would still require a Special Permit if the use is located within the State Land Use Agricultural District.  A change would need to take place in Chapter 205-4.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, as amended (permissible uses in the Agricultural District).


Jeffrey Darrow, Planner
County of Hawaii Planning Department