Hawaii Launches State Land Use Database

The searchable map, ordered by the Legislature in 2011, allows the public to see who is renting state-owned property and how much they pay.

by Andrew Gomes, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / October 8, 2018
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(TNS) — An inventory of land owned by the state and who pays to use it has been laid out in a new statewide public online database after more than a decade of efforts to create such a system.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources finished what it called a “monumental” task to produce the searchable map-based trove of information in 2015 and recently opened it to public use.

Among things the Public Land Trust Information System makes easy to view are tenants and the rent they pay for state land or buildings, fees for using submerged lands and even fees for encroaching on public property.

Revenue from camping permits and weddings on state land also can be found.

The public can see which agencies own and use state land, and whether the county or federal government owns a property. For private property, owners are identified. Other things noted include easements, county zoning and state land-use classifications.

“Combining all of this disparate data into one easily accessible database was a monumental undertaking,” DLNR Director Suzanne Case said in a statement.

Gov. David Ige added in a statement the public land information system is helping state and county workers access information while improving transparency and accountability in government.

“By digitizing important information about publicly owned lands, government workers will not only be able to better collect and study data, Hawaii residents will also be better informed about the land they live on,” he said.

Creation of the system was ordered by the Legislature in 2011 through a bill signed by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie, although state lawmakers made a similar attempt to have the system produced in 2000 under an enacted law that didn’t achieve its goal.

While supporting the concept, DLNR initially opposed the 2011 bill because it didn’t provide any funding to carry out the task. The bill that became Act 54 in 2011 ultimately appropriated up to $360,000 from a land conservation fund for the work that lawmakers wanted completed by the end of 2013.

DLNR got a slow start on the system in part because its state lands information systems manager resigned, but the agency said its Land Division personnel, in-house information technology staff and contractor Onyx Group finished the system in early 2015 at a cost of $213,000.

After more modifications that cost $97,382, the public portal was finished in June.

All the work required coordinating data from about 40 agencies, including information from permits to use state land. Linking the data with a geographic information system that shows parcels on a map also was needed, and allows searches by pointing on the map or entering an address or tax map key number.

By simply browsing, someone can see that the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands owns much of the land around Makapuu Beach Park while DLNR owns the shoreline area, and that DLNR earned $2,065 from 101 beach weddings there in fiscal year 2014.

At Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area in Aiea, DLNR reported collecting $7,759 for 381 camping permits.

Near Kewalo Basin, the Submarines Hawaii Inc. affiliate of tour firm Roberts Hawaii holds an easement over 4.2 acres of submerged state land for $5,500 a year good through 2039, according to the website.

The website allows searching for lessees of state land by name. For instance, Diamond Head Papaya Co. Ltd. leases state farmland on Hawaii island for $8,508 a year; Diamond Head Aviation LLC leases land and a building at Kalaeloa Airport for $10,500 a year; and the nonprofit Diamond Head Theatre leases its site next to Kapiolani Community College for $480 a year.

There are some disclaimers about the information, and DLNR has encouraged all state departments and counties to regularly update data in the system.

To access the Public Land Trust Information System, visit pltis.hawaii.gov.

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