Boundary Amendment Procedures

District Boundary Amendment ProceduresQuasi-Judicial ProceedingsDecision-Making CriteriaFifteen Acre RuleAffordable Housing ProjectsSpecial Use Permit Procedures

District boundary amendments are obtained by petition to the Commission. Amendment petitions can be initiated by State departments or agencies; County departments or agencies in which the property is situated; and any person with a direct interest in the property sought to be reclassified. A $5000 fee is required from private landowners and developers when filing an application to amend district boundaries. This fee is waived for government agencies.

Contents and format of a petition are described in the Hawaiʻi Land Use Commission Rules. A petition must meet the requirements of content and format before it is considered properly filed and accepted for processing. Upon acceptance of a properly filed petition, the Commission must hold a hearing on the island on which the subject property is situated within not less than 60 days and not more than 180 days. This hearing can be before the entire Commission or an appointed Hearing Officer.

The Commission must decide upon the request within 365 days after the petition is deemed a proper filing unless otherwise ordered by a court, or unless a time extension, which shall not exceed 90 days, is established by a two-thirds vote of the members of the commission. The Commission may approve, approve with conditions or deny the petition. If a district boundary is amended with conditions, the conditions must be recorded with the Bureau of Conveyances, as these conditions will run with the land and shall be binding upon the petitioner and subsequent persons with any interest in the land.

On petitions to redistrict Conservation lands, the requirements of the EIS law (Chapter 343, HRS) must be met before the petition to reclassify Conservation land can be officially accepted as a proper filing and acted upon by the Commission.

Amendment of a district boundary requires approval by at least six of the nine Commissioners.

District Boundary Amendment Flowchart (pdf)

By law, the decision-making process of the Commission is quasi-judicial. This means that the process is more judicial than legislative in nature. In this way, the rights of those who are most directly involved or most affected by the decision are accorded due process before an action is taken by the Commission. These individuals are allowed to take part in the proceedings as “parties.”

Parties that appear before the Commission may do so on the party’s own behalf or through an authorized representative. Parties may also be represented through an attorney. Persons with direct interests that are clearly distinguishable from those of the general public may petition the Commission to intervene in the proceeding. As an intervenor, a $50 fee is required and they have the right to present witnesses, cross-examine witnesses of other parties, and have standing to appeal the Commission’s decision to the Circuit Court.

All others may apply for leave to intervene as long as their position is not substantially similar to the position of party already admitted to the proceedings.

In addition to the petitioner, the Office of Planning and the respective County Planning Departments are mandatory parties to the proceedings.

The Land Use Law sets general procedures for processing district boundary amendment and special use permit requests. The Commission has adopted specific rules for implementing the law and reviewing these land use requests.


The Land Use Law requires the Commission to specifically consider the following criteria in review of any petition for a boundary amendment:

  1. Conformity to the goals, objectives and policies of the Hawaiʻi State Plan (Chapter 226, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes) and the Functional Plans adopted pursuant to the State Plan.
  1. Extent to which the proposed reclassification conforms to the applicable district standards
  1. Impacts on the following State concerns:
    • preservation or maintenance of important natural systems or habitats;
    • maintenance of valued cultural, historical or natural resources;
    • maintenance of other natural resources relevant to Hawaiʻi’s economy, including but not limited to agricultural resources;
    • commitment of state funds and resources;
    • provision for employment opportunities and economic development; and
    • provision for housing opportunities for all income groups, particularly the low, low-moderate, and gap groups.
  1. The representations and commitments made by the petitioner in securing a boundary change.

Furthermore, the Commission must take into account the General Plan of the respective County; and, where applicable, the objectives, policies and guidelines of the State Coastal Zone Management Law (Chapter 205A, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes).


In an effort to streamline the decision-making process, the law was amended in 1985 to allow applicants for land use changes of 15 acres or less to apply directly to the counties. The Commission, therefore, no longer handles such requests except when the lands are situated within the Conservation District.

All amendments approved by the counties are submitted to the State Land Use Commission Office in Honolulu for revision of the Official State Land Use District Boundaries Maps.


Projects which qualify under Section 201H-38, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, as affordable housing projects benefit from a “fast track” procedure whereby petitions for district boundary amendment are required to be heard and decided upon within 45 days after the filing of a petition.


This permitting process allows for “unusual and reasonable” uses within the Agricultural and Rural Districts; provided such uses comply with the objectives of the Land Use Law and meet the guidelines established by the Commission.

Applications for special use permits are made initially to the appropriate planning commission of the county where the property is located. When the proposed permit area is greater than 15 acres, the approval of both the county and the Commission is required.

On an application that involves an area greater than 15 acres, the Commission must decide on the request within 45 days after receipt of the complete record of the proceeding held by the County. Five affirmative votes are required to approve such a request.

Denial or modification of a Special Use Permit is appeal able to the circuit court of the circuit in which the land is situated.