House Rep. Ryan Yamane is nervous.

The Water and Land Committee chairman has spent months drafting two bills that he hopes will help address the impotence of the state Land Use Commission, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Karl Rhoads hasn’t yet scheduled them for a hearing.

The Land Use Commission is in charge of reclassifying land statewide. Applications may require months of review and final decisions can include hundreds of pages imposing multiple conditions for new developments.

But the agency has no way of enforcing its conditions if a developer stops complying with them after the project is well underway, according to a recent state Supreme Court decision.

Haseko's Wai Kai Lagoon, located next to Onehula Park in Ewa Beach, in September 2015.
Pictured here is Haseko’s Wai Kai Lagoon located next to Onehula Park in Ewa Beach. Haseko got permission to build a marina but changed its mind and decided to build a lagoon, sparking a lawsuit from homeowners. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Yamane introduced House Bill 2043, which penalizes counties for failing to enforce permit conditions, and House Bill 2044, which would give the commission the power to levy $50,000 daily fines if developers don’t comply with stated agreements.

The measures must pass out of Judiciary this week if they’re going to make it to the House floor.

Rhoads said he’s still analyzing the measures and hasn’t decided yet whether to schedule a hearing. He plans to make a decision by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The proposals’ death would be good news to the Chamber of Commerce and Building Industry Association, who submitted identical critical testimony of HB 2044.

“With the median price of houses on Oahu at $730,000.00, elected officials need to seriously consider how proposed changes to the existing land use entitlement process will either help or hurt Hawaii’s residents,” they wrote.

Yamane is convinced the bills won’t hurt development, and has the backing of the Land Use Commission, Office of Planning and Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

“We think it’s a great opportunity and a tool (that) those who want to protect the aina and make sure that there’s good stewardship of the land can get behind,” he said.

Read Civil Beat’s related coverage: Why Can’t The State Make Developers Keep Their Promises?

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