The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has told the federal government that it will accept 80 acres, or 0.125 square miles, of land in Ewa Beach to eventually redevelop the land into homesteads for Native Hawaiians.
The federal government last year offered the site of the former Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to the department to help settle longstanding claims against the U.S. government for the unauthorized use of trust lands reserved for Native Hawaiians, the department said.
“This large swath of flat land is in close proximity to existing infrastructure, which will allow the department to develop these lands quicker and for a lower cost than our more isolated parcels,” said William Aila, the lands department director and chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.
The offer stems from a 1995 federal law called the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act that Congress passed to settle past claims. The federal government has so far transferred about 900 acres, or 1.41 square miles, of land.
A transfer of the former PTWC parcel would utilize $10 million of a $16.9 million land credit that the trust has with the federal government. The $16.9 million land credit was agreed to when the transfer of a 47-acre Waipahū FCC Monitoring Site was not conveyed to DHHL by an August 31, 2000 deadline.
After the land is officially transferred, the department is expected to ask the state Legislature to fund planning for the parcel, according to the department.
About 11,000 Native Hawaiian beneficiaries are waiting for residential homesteads on Oahu, according to data last updated in June 2020.
Native Hawaiians are eligible to apply for 99-year leases at $1 per year for residential, ranching or farming leases on a land trust of just over 200,000 acres or 317 square miles statewide, overseen by the department.
The trust was created by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 to protect and improve the lives of Native Hawaiians, who are defined as having at least 50% Hawaiian ancestry.