Rep. Glenn Wakai
Rep. Glenn Wakai
Rep. Glenn Wakai
Rep. Glenn Wakai

Editor’s note: Sen. Glenn Wakai made these remarks on the floor of the Senate in support of Senate Bill 1171 on April 30, 2013. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 16 to 9 with several senators who supported the measure expressing reservations.

BY SEN. GLENN WAKAIOpponents would like you to believe this bill would give the state a license to bulldoze important historical or cultural sites. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is this measure makes only two “procedural” changes:

First, it provides a specific provision in State law which authorizes the phased review of certain projects by State Historic Preservation Division to ensure consistency between state and federal law. There are NO exemptions. This bill does not circumvent Chapter 6E, the State’s historic preservation law. All required archaeological inventory studies will be completed and any necessary mitigation must be done before construction proceeds.

Second, it removes redundancy in agency appeals, by deleting language  providing the Governor with the option to request a second study by the Hawaii Advisory Council on Historic Preservation…Asked to cite the federal law… *

In the Kalekini vs. Yoshioka ruling, on page 65, footnote 33, the Court suggested that SHPD amend its rules so that state law would be consistent with the federal law in the National Historic Preservation Act…We are doing exactly what Justices’ recommended.

For decades it has been a common practice to build projects in phases. This bill will simply put that in statute. If the state had a sketchy track record of desecrating historical sites there may be reason to pause. But the opposite is true. The state has an excellent record for ensuring we preserve important cultural sites. *

Here’s a sample of projects that have been phased in around the state:

    • On Oahu – Kalanianaole Highway, Kamehameha Highway, Kahekili Highway, Farrington Highway;
    • On the Big Island – Hawaii Belt Road, Volcano Road, Kua’kini Highway;
    • On Maui – Hale’akala Highway, Hono’a’piilani Highway, Hana Highway;
    • On Molokai – Kamehameha V Highway, Mauna’loa Highway, Ka’lae Highway;
    • On Lanai – Kau’mala’pau Highway;
    • On Kauai – Kau’mua’lii Highway and Kuhio Highway

It would be ideal if the state and Feds could bankroll entire projects once they are approved. But the reality is that funding for Federal projects roll in over several years. Sometimes we don’t own all the land we need at the beginning. We need to develop in manageable bites – or phases. If this bill is not passed, there will be delays in constructing new facilities or master planned projects.

Just this morning, the Attorney General indicated there is a likely hood that projects already in the pipeline could wind up in court. On your desk, you have a list of highways touching a neighborhood near each of you.

And it’s not just transportation projects, it includes renewable energy, agriculture projects, and school expansion.

The Department of Hawaiian Homelands and their master-planned communities have been phased developments.

DBEDT’s efforts to expand broadband, geothermal, sea water air conditioning would all be hampered.

Even the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will likely have to phase in their master plan for their 25 acres in Kaka’ako. They don’t have enough money to do an entire plan all at once.

 

Some opponents argue that doing an Archeological Inventory Survey at the start of an entire project COULD alleviate problems down the road, if a project has to be redirected in a subsequent phase.

 

If we are going contemplate hypothetical situations, I can also argue doing a comprehensive A-I-S at the start COULD cause more problems and cost more money.

All projects don’t turn out as initially planned, a road could be realigned or funding for a project could force developers to scale back. If you dig in an area that ultimately never gets developed, you’ve just disturbed remains that didn’t need to be touched…and put money into a study that will not be useful. That is a waste of time and resources.

 

A comprehensive A-I-S at the beginning of a development doesn’t guarantee there will be no problems later. An A-I-S is like hunting in the dark – you may hit a target, but often times you come away empty handed.

 

This bill is NOT about being disrespectful. There are NO exemptions. If a survey is identifies any burials sites, the project comes to an immediate halt.

This bill IS about allowing progress to occur as it has for decades, and at the same time being VERY respectful of sacred sites around the islands.

 

I encourage my colleagues to vote YES on this measure.

Thank you Madame President.

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