Given those constraints, it would be incredibly irresponsible for TMT’s investors to go forward with the project unless they had assurances that their lease would be renewed. But if the State were to do so, that would be inconsistent with the open, fair process the BLNR must go through when considering leases.
In keeping with such an open process, UH and TMT had tried back in 2013 to secure a longer lease. At its November 8, 2013 meeting, the BLNR addressed UH’s request to cancel its Maunakea leases and replace them with new 45-year leases. UH faced tremendous community opposition, and the proposal was not approved (see the BLNR submittals and minutes for its November 8, 2013 meeting).
This proposal to cancel current leases and establish new leases for a prolonged term, in essence, would have been equivalent to an action that is explicitly prohibited. A law (HRS Chapter 171-36(a)(1)) detailing lease restrictions establishes that “options for renewal of terms are prohibited.” This restriction is presumably to allow other interested parties an open, fair opportunity to seek a lease for a given parcel once a lease expires.
Nonetheless, the TMT and UH continued to forward the same plan of lease cancellations and concurrent new grants of long-term leases. The April 2014 UH sublease with TMT, Agreement 9(a)(1) stipulates that UH “shall use its best efforts to continue to…diligently pursue and take all actions necessary or advisable to complete the process currently underway with Lessor [DLNR] to obtain mutual cancellation of the current Master Lease subject to and concurrent with issuance of a new master lease…for a term of sixty-five (65) years and on terms and conditions materially consistent with the form of lease document submitted to the Lessor for consideration at its meeting of November 8, 2013.”
In short, UH’s sublease with TMT committed UH to continue advancing the same proposal that the community had resoundingly rejected and that the BLNR had not approved.