April 30, 1999
Contact: Rep. Jerry Chang
Phone: (808) 586-6120


A House-Senate Conference Committee has agreed to authorize the Department of Land and Natural Resources to issue new leases of up to 50 years to existing lessees of the Banyan Drive resort area in Hilo, according to Rep. Jerry Chang (D - South Hilo), chair of the House Committee on Tourism and author of the bill.

The measure, H.B. 827, H.D 3, S.D. 1, C.D. 1, must now undergo floor votes in the House and Senate before being sent to Governor Ben Cayetano for signature. In passing the measure, the conferees stated that it is the intent of the bill to provide incentives to upgrade the Banyan Drive resort area, the focal point for tourism development in East Hawaii and where 80 percent of the area's hotels are located. The state owns virtually all of the land in the area.

"Most of the current leases are set to expire in 15 years, so there is little incentive for hotel owners to upgrade their properties and keep them attractive," Chang said. "We are making it quite clear in H.B. 827 that as a best use of public lands, DLNR should issue new leases only for substantial improvements to the properties involved."

Chang said he does not foresee any problems with the measure in the Legislature and said he would work with the administration in getting the bill signed into law.