Land Use and Real Estate
Ocean-front land sale (Big Island)
An estate wished to purchase a small, adjacent, artificially created parcel of state-owned oceanfront land, but the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) had twice voted to deny the sale. The matter was further complicated when a member of the community asked the state to use the area as a “landscaped picnic area/mini-park/fishing spot/events site.”
CommPac developed and implemented a grass-roots community relations strategy that first identified key cultural practitioners and kūpuna (elders), sought their input and provided them with information regarding the proposal. Upon receiving their support, CommPac created a PowerPoint presentation for the next BLNR hearing, a DVD with footage of the site and testimony from community members who could not attend the hearing in person. To complement this effort, an op-ed piece by a key community leader was placed in the newspaper.
The testimony of the kūpuna and cultural practitioner, shown on the DVD, was instrumental in the board’s unanimous vote to approve the requested action.
Securing government approval (Maui)
In 2007, representatives of Wailea 670 (now called Honua‘ula), a master-planned community to be built on 670 acres in South Maui, asked CommPac for help in communicating public support for the project to both media and key Maui County decision-makers. The challenge was that highly organized opposition had been dominating public discussion of the project, which required the approval of a rezoning application by the Maui County Council’s Land Use Committee.
CommPac worked with the developer to mobilize project supporters to make their views better known both in the media and public hearings. We spearheaded letter-to-the-editor and public testimony campaigns. These efforts resulted in three consecutive weeks of supportive letters to the editor being published in the Maui News (the island’s daily newspaper) in the period before a hearing by the Land Use Committee, nearly a hundred pieces of supportive written testimony being submitted to the committee, and a supportive op-ed in the Maui News by the area’s representative in the state Legislature. This, in turn, combined with media relations efforts we also conducted, prompted more balanced media coverage of the project.
Thanks to the heightened awareness of widespread public support for the project, the Land Use Committee voted to approve the necessary rezoning. Today, the developer continues moving forward with the various other approvals it needs.