I’m doing a story about concerns that have been raised by some beneficiaries and beneficiary-controlled groups regarding DHHL practices that they say discriminate against the very group — beneficiaries — that the agency is supposed to serve.

I’m also hearing from beneficiaries who are critical of the commission’s approval last month of the new framework for the revocable permit program. They say that framework is anti-beneficiary because it doesn’t give preference to beneficiaries. Their position is that any land that isn’t put in the pipeline for homesteading should first be offered for lease (via RPs, licenses or other vehicles) to beneficiaries for commerce, business and mercantile purposes — a priority, they say, that is spelled out in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

Spurred by such concerns, a working group of beneficiaries from CNHA, the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands, SCHHA and Homestead Community Development Corp. are developing an alternative DHHL land use policy for consideration by the Ige administration.

I’m just starting the reporting so I may have more questions in the next day or two. But because my deadline is Friday, I wanted to give you the heads-up now and ask some basic questions.

What is DHHL’s response to the criticism that the framework approved by the commission to revise the RP program is anti-beneficiary because that framework doesn’t give preference to beneficiaries in the disposition of non-homesteading lands?

While a few individuals may believe that the revised RP program is anti-beneficiary, we remind everyone that the framework approved by the Commission is simply the start of the beneficiary consultation process which will be undertaken soon. And, as we stated earlier in your previous story, we look forward to the discussion and deliberation with all of our beneficiaries, and will do everything possible to make sure that every voice is heard in this process.

Once input from the beneficiaries is completed, proposed amendments to the new rules will be presented to the Commission for its consideration. Should a preference to beneficiaries on non-homestead use be offered by our beneficiaries, it will be a decision that will be made by the HHC.

We reiterate, that the framework approved is for the department to first look at available lands to determine the development timeline based on our estimated budget for lands not identified in the island plans for immediate homestead development.

These lands may be offered for a longer term under the general leasing program, pursuant to Chapter 171, HRS. Available lands within the 20-year time frame may be offered on a competitive basis for a month-to-month use set by upset fee, and will still be used as a management tool to assist the department to better manage the unencumbered lands, as well as provide a reasonable return.

Thanks for the timely responses. I have one follow-up question. In the last paragraph of your response, what do you mean by “upset” fee?

Our apologies for inadvertently using commercial real estate jargon in our earlier response to you. The term “upset” fee in plain language simply refers to the minimum acceptable bid that would be considered in a proposal or offer.

Also, when the commission met last month, did anyone from the public testify on the RP proposal? I left the Monday meeting before the topic came up for discussion, but when I was there Tuesday (when the vote was taken), no one testified on that agenda item. I’m wondering whether I can say in the story that no one from the public spoke against the proposal at last month’s meeting.

You are correct. There was no testimony received at the commission meeting on that agenda item on either Monday or Tuesday. No one spoke against the proposal.

For your readers’ reference, I have also included links to the answers we previously provided to you regarding the revised RP program and the proposed changes being considered by the Hawaiian Homes Commission should you also wish to provide it for their convenience.