Although the State has had a quarter century to provide DHHL the compensation to seal the transfer, it has failed to do so, triggering the non-compliance and solidifying DHHL’s continued ownership of the 346.233 acres, lands the State has been using freely for decades for public highways and roads with no compensation to DHHL beneficiaries.
The DOT cannot unilaterally claim highways and roadways that are DHHL trust lands because those trust lands are set apart from other state owned land. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA Section 206) states that “the powers and duties of the governor and the board of land and natural resources, in respect to lands of the State, shall not extend to lands having the status of Hawaiian home lands, except as specifically provided in this title.” As with the governor and the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the DOT is not authorized in the HHCA to take lands from the DHHL trust. DHHL lands are not part of the general pool of government lands but are reserved exclusively for DHHL’s trust purpose.
Still, even without legal authority, the DOT attempted to incorporate the DHHL-owned Mauna Kea Access Road (MKAR) into its DOT State Highway System using a March 15, 2018 internal DOT memo. This memo originated in one part of the DOT and sought approval from higher DOT officials to add MKAR into its State Highway System, absent consent from the land owner, the DHHL.