The announcement comes just days after House Speaker Scott Saiki made the offer.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs isn’t ready to give up the pursuit of developing residential high rises on several parcels of land it owns near the Kakaako waterfront.

OHA’s board of trustees decided on Thursday to reject a proposal from House Speaker Scott Saiki to take a $100 million payment in exchange for discontinuing a years-long pursuit of lifting a 2006 residential ban on OHA’s lands in Kakaako Makai.

Those lands were transferred to OHA in 2012 as part of a settlement meant to reconcile decades-old claims over payments to OHA from the state for the use of public lands. The land settlement was valued at $200 million at the time, although the office now estimates that the lands were worth around $90 million.

Kakaako Makai OHA
The OHA Board of Trustees rejected a $100 million proposal to abandon residential plans in Kakaako. (Courtesy: Office of Hawaiian Affairs)

The payment proposed by Saiki would represent just a fraction of the amount of money owed to OHA from additional payments from those public lands, the office said in a press release.

Prohibiting residential development would have “too adverse an impact on the future value of Hakuone lands,” the press release said, referring to the new name OHA has given its lands in Kakaako.

OHA’s efforts this year to repeal the residential ban failed after Senate Bill 1235 stalled in the House. A similar measure in 2021 also died in the House. OHA could still build low-rise residential units on certain parcels as well as other retail developments.

Carmen Hulu Lindsey, chairwoman of the OHA board, said it’s about fairness.

“We are asking to be accorded the same privileges as the developers from the mainland
whose towers continue to go up, unimpeded, just across from Hakuone,” she said in the press release.

She added that OHA sees the lands as “an economic engine, a place close to the urban core, where we can showcase our culture, allow families to thrive, and encourage business growth.”

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