HONOLULU (KHON2) — Legislative bills that would allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to develop residential projects in Kakaako are likely dead and the OHA chairwoman is not holding back, pointing a finger directly at House Speaker Scott Saiki. 

Efforts to lift a ban on residential developments on OHA parcels in Kakaako seem unsuccessful for this legislative session. Chairperson Carmen Hulu Lindsey said they were not given a fair shot. 

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“Multiple statements by Speaker Saiki make it clear he is firmly against lifting the restrictions on residential development on our lands,” Lindsey said. “The speaker’s resistance is so strong that he will not even allow hearing our bill.”

Lindsey referring to bills stuck in house committees without hearings. This session, companion bills in the State House and Senate looking to exempt residential development on nine parcels of Kakaako Makai are likely dead. This land was transferred to OHA by the state in 2012 to address injustices faced by Native Hawaiians. 

OHA understood the zoning restrictions back in 2012 and has advocated passing residential development exemptions ever since. Lindsey also addressed misinformation on plans for the land. 

Lindsey said, “They are claiming that we can build on all 13 parcels of our lands and that is not true we’ve asked for three lots to have residential.”

The Chair also called out a double standard by some legislators and said they are not allowing them to build residential on their property, meanwhile, highrises continue going up on the other side of Ala Moana Boulevard. 

A House spokesperson said Speaker Saiki has not had a chance to review Chair Lindsey’s comments. She added, there is still time for the House to evaluate options and to respond when appropriate. KHON 2 News attempted to contact Saiki directly but has not heard back. 

Meanwhile, OHA Chief Operating Officer Casey Brown said they are also exploring their options. 

Brown said, “We may start looking at what we can do on the commercial space where the lots are already zoned commercial, while we continue to come back and bring what we believe the Hawaiian people are owed.”

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

This legislative session is scheduled to end on May 4.