Malama Solomon Makes Headlines Again for Land Use Infractions

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Malama Solomon, who represents the Kohala District in the state Senate, is seeking to subdivide a 125-acre parcel of Hawaiian Home Lands leased to her mother, Flora Solomon, in an area above the Hawai`i Preparatory Academy in Waimea. Details of the subdivision request, which was filed with the Hawai`i County Planning Department on December 18, were published last month in an article by Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Rob Perez, part of a longer investigation into apparent inequities in the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ policies on land disposition.
The subdivision request, Perez wrote, “could rectify a violation at least a decade old of having too many residences on the property.” DHHL rules permit just one house per pastoral lot, plus a building for workers. “Four residences … are among the nine structures on the overall parcel, according to county records,” he added, of which just two have been reviewed by DHHL.

Those four structures were built with the blessing of the county Department of Public Works, however. Noelani Whittington, the department’s public information officer, said all had been built since 1999 with proper permits and approvals from the county.

The most recently permitted of those structures, Whittington said, includes a commercial kitchen and storage area. On the map showing the proposed subdivision, one building is identified as a halau: Malama Solomon’s sister, Hulali Solomon Covington, is the kumu hula of the Beamer-Solomon halau, while Malama herself has been identified in the press as its historian. One is identified as a “work cottage.” The remaining two are simply labeled “structure.”

All the paperwork related to the subdivision application has been signed by Malama Solomon, who represents that she has power of attorney for her elderly mother.

On May 5, the same day on which Perez’s article ran, Planning Department director Duane Kanuha wrote Sidney Fuke, the planning consultant assisting in the filings. He asked that Fuke provide “evidence of A.L. Solomon as Power of Attorney for Flora B. Solomon.” A.L. Solomon is Alice Leiomalama Solomon, the senator. As of May 13, the requested documentation did not appear in county files.

Past Infractions
This is not the first time that Solomon or her immediate relatives appear to have received special consideration from state agencies, nor is it the first time that Solomon herself has run afoul of state laws regulating land uses:
In 1991, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources awarded a non-bid lease of 200 acres near Hawi to Randolph Solomon, the senator’s father, to grow cattle feed. The lease was made nearly three years after a state law went into effect to ban the practice of direct leases for such purposes. When Solomon claimed he could not make money off the land while being restricted to growing fodder, he asked that the purpose of the lease be changed. The Land Board agreed, subject to approval of the attorney general. The AG disapproved. The Land Board asked a second, third, and fourth time, but each time the result was the same. Finally, in 1997, the lease was cancelled.

In 2011, Malama Solomon have hired a bulldozer operator to cross state lands to get to her agricultural property, where she intended to plant breadfruit trees. To get to her land, she had the operator cross unencumbered state land, damaging several historic properties in the process. The Land Board did not fine her, but required her to do restoration work on the damaged sites.

In 2012, the state Commission on Water Resource fined Solomon $50 for unauthorized work in a stream channel bordering a house site in Hilo.

Patricia Tummons

 

Volume 24, Number 12 — June 2014

 

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