Opinion Letter No. 03-21
December 29, 2003
Records Pertaining to Kahana Valley State Park Interpretive Leases
Residents living in Kahana prior to its condemnation
for a State park negotiated a “living park” concept
to be able to continue living in the Kahana Valley State Park (“Park”).
The General Leases between the DLNR and each Lessee states that,
for consideration of a Lessee’s participation in the Park
interpretive program, the Lessee is given a residential lease to
a specific lot for 65 years. Thus, Lessees pay for their leases
with in-kind services rather than monetary rent.
General Leases, and exhibits and addenda attached
thereto, are public under section
92F-12(a)(5), HRS. In a typical lease, the dollar amount paid as
lease rent is set forth in the lease itself and, thus, is public.
With the General Leases, the activities performed as rent for the
leases are not set forth because the specific activities to be performed
were agreed upon at a later date and are memorialized in subsequent
agreements or other records. Thus, because of the unique method
of payment of the General Leases, rent amounts were not included
in the lease documents at the time they were executed.
While Lessees have privacy interests in records showing
the activities performed and hours earned, these interests are diminished
by the fact that compensation for leases are generally set forth
within lease documents which are public and the Lessees, at the
time they entered into the General Leases, could not have reasonably
believed that the activities to be performed in lieu of rent would
be confidential; the sole purpose of the interpretive programs are
for the education of the public; Lessees were aware at the time
they negotiated their leases that public education was a part of
their payment obligation; and in many cases, Lessees fulfill their
lease obligations in full view of the public.
Information on lease payment amounts and activities
performed opens the DLNR’s administration and management of
the Park, including the rent for leases of State land, to public
scrutiny. Balancing the public interest against the Lessees’
privacy interests, we found that the public interest in disclosure
is greater than the Lessees’ privacy interests, and records
showing specific activities conducted and hours earned as payment
of rent for General Leases of State land are public because disclosure
would not be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
under section 92F-13(1), HRS.