HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2010
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. Between 1969 and 2006, the amount of land zoned for agriculture declined by over twenty-five thousand acres statewide, according to the Hawaii Data Book. On Oahu, land under cultivation went from one hundred twenty-five thousand acres in 1982 to seventy thousand acres in 2005, according to the Statistics of Hawaii Agriculture compiled by the state department of agriculture. Throughout the State, prime agriculture lands are being developed. On Oahu, there is particular concern regarding housing projects projected to be built on prime agriculture lands in Mokuleia, Kahuku, and the Ewa plain.
The legislature finds that the State's land use law was enacted to "preserve and protect land best suited for . . . agricultural purposes and to facilitate sound and economical urban development . . ." (Senate Stand. Com. Rep. No. 580; 1961 Senate Journal). Since that time, lands classified by the land study bureau as class A and class B lands, the lands most suited for intensive agricultural use, have declined from 359,690 acres (class A, 125,160 acres; class B, 234,530 acres) in 1960 to 172,094 acres (class A, 56,653 acres; class B, 115,441 acres) in 2007. These agricultural lands are a resource that cannot be replaced once they are lost to development.
The inventory of lands that are suitable for agriculture is essentially fixed. Agricultural lands cannot be manufactured when the demand for these lands increases. In 1960, the land study bureau estimated that there were nearly 360,000 acres of class A and B lands on the six major islands. These were the lands upon which the State depended for profitable, competitive agricultural production. By 2007, the inventory of class A and B lands had declined to slightly more than 172,000 acres. Thus, it is more important than ever to conserve Hawaii's most productive agricultural lands, especially in counties with a population of over five hundred thousand residents.
The purpose of this Act is to carry out the mandate of article XI, section 3, of the Hawaii constitution to conserve and protect agricultural lands and ensure availability of agriculturally suitable lands in counties with a population of over five hundred thousand residents.
SECTION 2. Chapter 519, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"§519‑ Agricultural leases of real property. (a) Any agreement or document for the lease of private agricultural lands, with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B for agricultural use in counties with populations of over five hundred thousand residents, that:
(1) Is entered into after July 1, 2010; and
(2) Provides for the renegotiation of the rental amount and the term of the lease;
if the lessee has made substantial improvements or is seeking to make substantial improvements on the land, the renegotiated term of the lease shall include an extension of the lease for a period of not less than seventy-five per cent of the original term of the lease; provided that the lessor may agree to a shorter term or to termination of the agreement only if so offered by the lessee; provided further that any additional terms and conditions shall be mutually agreed upon by the lessor and lessee and shall be reasonable.
(b) As used in this section, "lease" means a conveyance leasing privately-owned land by a fee simple owner as lessor, to any person or entity for consideration of a return of rent or other compensation."
SECTION 3. Section 205-3.1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsections (a) and (b) to read as follows:
"(a) District boundary amendments involving lands in the conservation district, land areas greater than fifteen acres, agricultural lands with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B, or lands delineated as important agricultural lands shall be processed by the land use commission pursuant to section 205-4.
(b) Any department or agency of the State, and department or agency of the county in which the land is situated, or any person with a property interest in the land sought to be reclassified may petition the appropriate county land use decision-making authority of the county in which the land is situated for a change in the boundary of a district involving lands less than fifteen acres presently in the rural and urban districts and lands less than fifteen acres in the agricultural district that are not agricultural lands with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B, and are not designated as important agricultural lands."
SECTION 4. Section 205-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended as follows:
1. By amending subsection (a) to read:
"(a) Any department or agency of the State, any department or agency of the county in which the land is situated, or any person with a property interest in the land sought to be reclassified, may petition the land use commission for a change in the boundary of a district. This section applies to all petitions for changes in district boundaries of lands within conservation districts, agricultural lands with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B, lands designated or sought to be designated as important agricultural lands, and lands greater than fifteen acres in the agricultural, rural, and urban districts, except as provided in section 201H‑38. The land use commission shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to implement section 201H-38."
2. By amending subsection (h) to read:
"(h) No amendment of a land use district
boundary shall be approved unless the commission finds upon [
clear preponderance of the evidence that the proposed boundary is reasonable,
not violative of section 205-2 and part III of this chapter, and consistent
with the policies and criteria established pursuant to sections 205-16 and
205-17[ .]; provided that for a boundary amendment for agricultural
lands with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land
classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B, no
amendment of a land use district boundary shall be approved in counties with a
population of over five hundred thousand where:
(1) A farming operation as defined in section 165-2 is being conducted on the land;
(2) The land is important for agriculture based on the stock of similarly suited lands in the area;
(3) The district boundary amendment will harm the productivity or viability of existing agricultural activity in the area; and
(4) The district boundary amendment will cause fragmentation of or intrusion of nonagricultural uses into largely intact areas of agricultural lands with soil classification by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B.
Six affirmative votes of the commission shall be necessary for any boundary amendment under this section."
SECTION 5. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.
SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2050.
Protects agriculturally suitable lands on Oahu (lands with productivity ratings of "A" or "B"); provides for mandatory extension of agricultural leases; effective July 1, 2050. (SD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.