Turtle Bay bill advances
The measure would let the state buy the land to preserve it
Plans to halt development of the Turtle Bay area are gaining momentum in the state Legislature, according to House and Senate supporters.
Yesterday a House committee approved the bill to permit Gov. Linda Lingle to stop development by arranging for the purchase of the Turtle Bay resort and surrounding property.
The action by the Water, Land, Ocean Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee moved Senate Bill 2423 to two more House committees.
Committee Chairman Mike Magaoay said the campaign is picking up steam.
"At the community meeting the governor called in Kahuku last week, everyone was trying to figure out what was the first step," said Magaoay (D, Schofield-Kahuku). "Now we have a task force, and the governor is having meetings to discuss a public private --partnership."
The action is important, said Sen. Clayton Hee, who is sponsoring the bill to preserve the 1,351 North Shore acres -- 850 of which are part of the Turtle Bay Resort.
"This is a pretty strong signal from the House, and that is good news," said Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe).
Lingle, Hee said, wants to keep open all her options to stop development in the area.
"She is trying to not exclude any opportunity and to include every opportunity. I would be surprised if the private sector were not also to be involved," Hee said.
Republican Rep. Cynthia Thielen says she thinks the money needed for the purchase could come from the federal government and private donations.
"I think the state's share could be nominal," said Thielen (R, Kaneohe-Kailua).
Speaking for Lingle yesterday, Linda Smith, Lingle's senior policy adviser, said the legislation should allow Lingle to negotiate with the current landowner, Oaktree Capital Management.
"We ask that this legislation allow for the maximum flexibility in how resources are brought to this project."
To assist, the Land Board is considering hiring a financial consultant to assist the state in purchasing the property.
Laura Thielen, Department of Land and Natural Resources director, said the issue is complicated. A request for proposals has been posted and is capped at $150,000.
The bid notice says the state "needs to act expediently and without delay to be able to enter into negotiations with the current owners."
"The state seeks to contract an independent financial adviser with a high level of expertise and experience in complex real estate transactions involving public and private resources," the bid document says.