Jeanne Cooper, Special to SFGate
Updated 04:28 p.m., Friday, June 29, 2012
With his recent purchase of 98 percent of Lanai, Larry Ellison became one of the largest landowners in Hawaii — but he's not the biggest, nor the only one with California connections. Here's a look at who else is in the top 10, based on a 2011 state report and how they got their piece of paradise.
1. State of Hawaii
Appropriately enough, Hawaii owns the largest share of the eight main Hawaiian islands covered in the report — and that's even if you exclude the nearly 194,000 acres designated for use by Native Hawaiians through the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Combined, the state and department control 1.54 million acres, including more than a million on the island of Hawaii, 156,000 on Kauai, 128,000 on Maui and, on Oahu, some 85,000 acres — a stake that's almost the size of Ellison's on Lanai.
And speaking of the former Pineapple Isle, the state government not only owns 541 acres there, but also 127 acres on the famously private island of Niihau, not to mention all but 24 acres of the uninhabited island of Kahoolawe, where the federal government owns the rest. It's worth noting that before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, led by commercial interests with ties to the Mainland, most of the current state and federal lands were crown property. The short-lived Republic of Hawaii ceded 1.8 million acres to the U.S. government after Hawaii was annexed in 1898 and became a territory.
As Hawaii's first Congressional delegate, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianiole — who with his brothers is said to have been the first to surf Santa Cruz while students in San Mateo in the 1880s — spearheaded the legislation to create the Hawaiian Homes Commission, later renamed Hawaiian Home Lands. Those lands, much of which are offered in long-term leases via lottery to Native Hawaiians on waiting lists, range from rural tracts in Wainiha and Anahola on Kauai to suburban homesites in the "second city" of Oahu, Kapolei. In 1959, the federal government transferred control of 1.2 million acres to the newly created state of Hawaii.
1. I'm not surprised that "Government" is the top "landowner" ...
(U.S., state, etc. levels).
I can't imagine how much someone would make in $$$ if the Government didn't own all those military bases (with airstrips, to boot) and national parks and such, and the government would have to "rent" ...