Star-Advertiser: ‘New DHHL Permit Process Approved’

Land leases will now be based on competitive bids and annual automatic renewals will be eliminated

By Rob Perez
Dec 17, 2014
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The revocable-permit program was loosely run and was criticized by beneficiaries, who saw mostly non-Hawaiian tenants getting significantly discounted rents for what were designed to be short-term deals but became long-term agreements.

Statewide meetings will be held to get feedback from DHHL’s beneficiaries (those at least 50 percent Native Hawaiian), tenants and the public. Then final approval of the revised system will be sought. “We look forward to the input and dialogue we will gain from meeting with our beneficiaries in the coming months,” said Jobie Masagatani, DHHL’s director and commission chairwoman.


The Hawaiian Homes Commission on Tuesday approved sweeping changes to the basic framework for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ controversial month-to-month land leasing program, authorizing reforms intended to make the process more transparent and more fair.

With no opposition, the commission gave the go-ahead for the staff to develop a permit system based on competitive bids rather than the first-come, first-serve one that had been used for decades and generated allegations of favoritism, mismanagement and inconsistent enforcement.

The department also will do away with annual automatic renewals for the so-called revocable permits, establish procedures for determining fair market rents, and allocate staff to conduct compliance reviews on an annual basis.

In addition, DHHL intends to review uses for the more than 38,000 acres in the program to determine whether some of the parcels should be placed in the pipeline for developing homestead lots or converted to general leases, which are 55- or 65-year agreements and generate much more income for the agency.

The commission’s action came after a 2013 Honolulu Star-Advertiser series that revealed numerous flaws with the program and led to the suspension of new permit awards and the formation of an advisory panel by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie to recommend changes.  Continue reading