OHA urges lawmakers to lift residential housing restrictions for Hakuone

Sponsored by Office of Hawaiian Affairs

HONOLULU (HI Now) - In 2012, 30 acres of land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard in Kakaʻako were transferred from the State of Hawai’i to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) as a settlement for past-due Public Land trust revenue debt of $200 million for its use of ceded lands.

In late 2022, these lands were named Hakuone, which represents the history and cultural significance of the area.

OHA seeks to bring a greater sense of Hawaiʻi back to Kakaʻako by growing the culture, language and increased opportunities for the lāhui, so these lands can again become a source of abundance and pride.

In order for Hakuone to be a true, thriving local community, however, people need to be able to live there.

The Hakuone parcels are currently restricted to retail and commercial uses, preventing the development of residential units to create a vibrant, multi-functional planned community that would allow OHA to fund its mission of bettering the conditions of Native Hawaiian people in education, health, housing, and economic stability.

OHA is supporting legislation in the 2023 session that would ensure that Native Hawaiians have the same opportunity to develop the makai lands as their mauka neighbors.

The potential for residential development is a major consideration in valuing the land, and thus in funding the larger Hakuone plan, with affordable and workforce housing as well as neighborhood amenities like a Native Hawaiian Cultural Center, farmers and craft markets, art spaces, and open and park space.

How big a difference does residential make to Hakuone’s development potential? The land was said to be worth $200 million in 2016. As even lawmakers agree today, OHA was shortchanged. According to a recent appraisal by an international firm, the land today is worth $94 million with residential development. Without residential, it’s worth $43,600,000—less than a fourth of the original valuation.

Once fully developed, Hakuone has the potential to generate millions of dollars a year toward continuing beneficiary and community investments for Native Hawaiians statewide.

With residential options open to OHA, Hakuone will be built as a place where ancient trading practices of mauka (farmers) and makai (lawai’a) converge; where keiki and kupuna thrive; where la’au lapa’au practices heal body, mind and spirit; and open spaces provide restorative healing.

For more information, visit www.hakuone.com or on Facebook and Instagram @hakuonehi.