Senate Looking At Land Swap

State senators have introduced land exchange legislation that they say will help protect agricultural and conservation lands, while boosting the agriculture industry in Hawaii.

The measure is being supported by 18 state senators, including the bill’s main sponsor Donovan Dela Cruz.

The bill has passed a second reading and has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

Senate Bill 3065, Relating to Land Exchange, would allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources to exchange state-owned parcels in Kapolei for 20,000 acres of agricultural and conservation lands in Central Oahu. The lands, owned by the Castle & Cooke, surround the 1,207 acres of arable land purchased by the state for $13 million in 2012.

The land acquisition was part of the Whitmore Project, an initiative hoping to revitalize Hawaii’s agriculture industry by bringing farmers and the state together to increase food production, create jobs and provide affordable housing.

Castle & Cooke has listed the land for sale at $175 million and supports the idea of an exchange. The state owns land near areas where transit-oriented development is in the works.

“A land exchange with Castle & Cooke makes real sense here,” stated Dela Cruz in a release. “We have to look at all our options and think outside the box to help diversify Hawaii’s ag industry and preserve our lands. The state would spend little to no taxpayer money, and the exchange would allow for the appropriate entity to oversee smart development around transit plans, and put the state in a place where it can provide opportunities for farmers and preserve lands.”