Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The State Is Not Willing To Follow Its Own Rules

The State of Hawai‘i is a regulatory powerhouse.

However, when it comes to enforcement … it seeks to exempt itself from the same laws it requires everyone else to follow.


Last session the legislature created the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC.)  The enabling legislation suggests, “The purpose of this chapter is to create a vehicle and process to make optimal use of public land for the economic, environmental and social benefit of the people of Hawaii.”

“Permissible uses of public land pursuant to this chapter shall include but not be limited to office space; vehicular parking; commercial uses; hotel, residential, and timeshare uses; fueling facilities; storage and repair facilities; and seawater air conditioning plants.” (i.e. lots of uses)

Yet, the law provides PLDC a significant list of exemptions granted to this State entity, “Exemption from requirements. 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.”  (This law is already in effect.)

Now, under the cutesy “The Invest In Hawaii Act” moniker, the State wants to exempt “all repair and maintenance, capital renewal, and capital improvement projects that are subject to the measure from all county permit, license, and certificate requirements; provided that the projects still comply with the applicable county code requirements”.

Another bill, states that “exceptional planning projects” approved by the legislature will receive exemptions from the zone change process and compliance with zoning standards.  According to the committee report on the bill, it will provides “incentives for exceptional planning projects in the form of exemptions from State land development fees, school impact fees, and environmental assessment requirements and from county zone change requirements, zoning standards and impact fees”.

There are more exemptions proposed at the legislature; but I think you are starting to get the picture on what is going on.

Why is it OK for the State to exempt itself from requirements and fees, but continue to require everyone else to follow the law?

Not only does this provide a significant cost and regulatory advantage for the State over private development, by exempting these requirements, it suggests the rules and fees may not be necessary to begin with.

It will be interesting to see how these laws are implemented and if it shows existing regulations are too onerous for even the State to make ends meet.

Obviously, the legislature feels the laws, rules and fees are too cumbersome for the State to follow (especially since the State exempted itself from the requirements.)

If these laws and rules are excessive and unnecessary, why doesn’t the legislature just change them, rather than simply exempt itself from them and require everyone else to follow them.

It makes you wonder; if these laws, rules and fees are so important, why should anyone be exempted from them?

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