Q&A On Ag Subdivisions – Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald

Posted on May 11, 2014 in Community News, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Homestead Services Division, News Releases, Planning Office, Public Information, Public Notice

Preface:

As the complexities of the Procedure for Processing Agricultural and Pastoral Subdivisions can be confusing, we have provided an overview of the process that resulted in this new program. We believe that this program will help better serve our native Hawaiian agricultural and pastoral lessees.

On January 15, 2013 The Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC) approved submittal Item G-1 to remove the moratorium on subdivisions of agricultural and pastoral leases as authorized under section 10-3-26 of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) Administrative Rules, subject to DHHL develop an implementation plan to implement section 10-3-26 that included the criteria for reviewing requests; the information required of lessees; and other information that may be needed. The target date to present this implementation plan to the HHC was April 2013 HHC with final approval expected in May 2013. DHHL conducted outreach meetings across the state to discuss the implementation plan prior to the April 2013 HHC meeting.

On May 20, 2013, The Hawaiian Homes Commission approved the Implementation Plan that included the criteria to allow Subdivisions and Transfer of Agriculture and Pastoral Leases; a Beneficiary Consultation Report; and the next Steps (procedures) to implement 10-3-26 (f).

On January 25, 2013, DHHL staff from HSD, OCH/District Offices, LDD and PO conducted internal meetings to discuss the work plan to remove the moratorium on subdivisions of agricultural and pastoral leases. Staff developed the implementation plan and internal procedures that are necessary to review and process requests for agricultural and pastoral subdivisions using the criteria adopted by the Commission on May 20, 2013 and existing Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR). The document is titled “Internal Process for Agricultural and Pastoral Homestead Subdivision Request Procedures Number 05-2013”. The document enables staff to utilize existing internal forms and procedures that is required to process the subdivision requests, in addition, an Agricultural and Pastoral Subdivision Guide Table is being prepared to identify the areas that are capable of supporting subdivision development. The table will enable staff and homesteaders to know what areas are eligible for subdivision development.

A homesteader’s application packet has been prepared titled “Information on Hawaiian Home Lands Agricultural Subdivisions.” This packet has been published on DHHL’s website to provide information for homesteaders who want to subdivide their lot. A copy of the procedure, forms, and the guide table will be available at the district offices. To date, the department has distributed 10 packets on Hawaii and 5 packets on Molokai to lessees interested in subdividing their agricultural and pastoral parcels. Although the department has established the basis for the program, changes may be required during the initial roll-out phase to improve processing.

The department is prepared to accept subdivision application requests submitted on January 31 or June 30 of each calendar year.

This lifting of the agricultural and pastoral moratorium and the collaborative process that the department has pursued with our beneficiaries provides a solid foundation for the program’s success. The department will continue to look for opportunities like this to engage our beneficiaries as a means of better serving them.

Internal Process for
Agricultural and Pastoral Homestead Subdivision Requests
Procedure Number 05-2013

/S/
Jobie M.K. Masagatani
Jan. 24, 2014

Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald Questions:

Thank you, Puni.

We plan to run our own article Saturday or Sunday. Here’s what else I need by then.

That document on page 5, under action No. 13, says the following, “Staff verifies that homesteader is in good standing or can come into good standing with lease obligations…”

I assume that subdividing the property is what places them in good standing. Is that correct?

Partially correct. Compliance includes various obligations which are made explicit in the subdivision application packet; they include being up to date on loan/mortgage payments, taxes, and water bills/utilities, having compliant structures, cultivating or ranching on 2/3 of the lot, etc. The subdivision process MAY assist in bringing those parcels with more than one structure on their property into compliance, but it would not assist in satisfying other obligations of the lessee.

Why not make them come into compliance before approving the subdivision?

The HHC in their action to lift the moratorium approved a list of criteria in which they would use to assess whether or not to allow an agricultural/pastoral lot to be subdivided. Most of these criteria, if not met, could prevent the homesteader from subdividing. Therefore, for the most part, lessees will be required to come into compliance before approval. There may be individual cases, however, where it makes better sense to allow compliance through the subdivision process.

I noticed the document makes several references to transferring lots to family members. Is this required?

Yes. It was very clear, based on comments from our beneficiary consultation and the criteria adopted by the HHC that subdivision would only be allowed if the new lots would be transferred to a family member. The Commission supports beneficiaries’ preference in keeping homestead lots within that beneficiary’s family, as evidenced through comments received during the beneficiary consultation process.

Does the lessee have to transfer any of the lots to someone else? If so, how is the lessee proposing to do so?

The lessee would not necessarily be required to transfer the lots. As a practical matter, however, a lessee would not typically go through the process of subdividing if he/she did not intend on transferring.

Are the lessees allowed to be tenants of each of the lots? Is that a violation of rules? Does an exception need to be granted?

A lessee can be a leasehold “tenant” of more than one lot, in that he/she is the lessee of multiple lots under the same lease. If you mean whether a lessee can have his/her residence on more than one lot, the answer is no.

Is the department considering making any of the lots available to other non-family beneficiaries?

The transfer process is something that is approved by the HHC but is really a decision made by the lessee. The current procedure adopted by the HHC says that they will support subdivision if it is to family members. If lots are returned to the department then we would go through a re-award process and at that time make it available to the applicants on the wait list.

I understand there is quite a waiting list. If it is not considering that action, why not?

As one of the recommendations from the Hawaiian Homes Commission ag task force the department is currently looking at developing an agricultural program plan to address all of these issues comprehensively. We are looking at what programs and technical assistance we can provide or access to support our existing and future farmers/ranchers to make productive use of their lands. We are also looking at land use, carrying capacity, and the larger market to see if there are any opportunities for more utilization of trust lands. Lastly, we are looking at other agricultural models for our beneficiaries that may include establishment of ag co-ops, development of agricultural parks, and traditional Hawaiian agricultural/aquacultural land use.

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