The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has hit another roadblock in its efforts to develop several parcels of land along the Kakaako shoreline.
The lands were given to OHA in 2012 to settle past revenue claims to lands formerly held by the Hawaiian Kingdom. However, efforts to develop and monetize those lands have stalled in past years. Lawmakers in 2006 banned residential development on lands makai of Ala Moana Boulevard.
Senate Bill 1334 would lift that restriction on several of OHA’s parcels and allow development of 400-foot-tall towers on two plots of those lands. The measure won approval in the Senate March 9 and was supported by OHA.
However, SB 1334 now appears dead this session. House Speaker Scott Saiki, in a statement to opponents of the bill who rallied at the State Capitol on Tuesday, said that the House would not allow the measure to advance.
“Some will say that I oppose SB 1334 because Kakaako Makai is a part of my House district. This is not accurate,” Saiki said in his statement. “The issue here is larger than one person’s House district. Kakaako Makai is a statewide issue for all of us.”
Saiki echoed concerns of opponents, saying that the shoreline parcels are among the only open spaces remaining in town.
Saiki said he and state Sen. Sharon Moriwaki, who also represents Kakaako, will work with OHA to explore alternatives to developing the parcels.
Moriwaki heralded the announcement in remarks on the Senate floor. She was among six senators who voted “no” on SB 1334.
“It is to continue the legacy of keeping shorelines open for future generations,” Moriwaki said of the Save Our Kakaako hui gathered outside the Capitol building.
OHA Board of Trustees Chair Carmen Hulu Lindsey said her office is disappointed that the measure has stalled.
“We are saddened that Native Hawaiians were robbed of an opportunity to have their voices heard in a single hearing in the House of Representatives,” Lindsey said in a written statement. “Nevertheless, we remain steadfast. We understand that the pursuit of justice and self-determination for Native Hawaiians continues to be a challenge. We will now turn our attention to finishing our planning efforts.”
The OHA trustees set up a group to study the Kakaako Makai lands in January. Lindsey said the office plans to come back to the Legislature next year with another proposal.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell