Affordable housing plan rejected

  • Contributed photo

    County Councilmember JoAnn A. Yukimura

LIHUE — Fiscal responsibility framed the Kauai County Council’s Wednesday decision to reject placing a charter amendment on the November ballot that would have allocated 3 percent of real property tax revenues to affordable housing.

But, it was also the impetus for the resolution introduced by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.

The motion to approve the resolution that would have let voters decide the amendment’s fate failed by a 6-1 vote, with Yukimura the sole “aye” on the council.

She compared the situation to running a household and taking money out of a paycheck at the beginning of the month to set aside for high priorities before the money is chopped up for expenses and spent on other things.

“Be fiscally responsible and put aside monies at the front for what should be a priority,” she said.

The proposal would have raised an estimated $4.3 million per year over 10 years. The money would have been used for development and preservation of affordable housing, including land and building purchases, property entitlements, planning, design, construction and financing.

The problem with the resolution for the rest of the council was a charter amendment would limit flexibility for those funds should they be needed for something else, and that the county’s housing agency doesn’t have a direct plan for the money, yet.

Everyone on the council agreed money should be made available for affordable housing — the debate was about how to do it.

Councilmember Ross Kagawa pointed out a charter-mandated 3 percent allocation from real property taxes could have the potential to increase those taxes or decrease services, depending upon what happens in the future.

“Charter amendment doesn’t do deliverables (and) everything is unpredictable,” Kagawa said. “It’s not disclosing that we may have to increase property tax or get less services.”

Councilman Arthur Brun agreed.

“I don’t think this is the right way to go now, to tie everyone’s hands for $4 million,” he said.

Councilmembers pointed out a way the administration could increase revenues for needed affordable housing projects.

The housing agency currently has growth of the housing fund included in its short range plan for FY2019, looking at 1 percent of real property taxes to grow the fund.

“We realize the housing fund needs to grow and this has a similar intent through a different mechanism,” said Kauai County Housing Director Kanani Fu.

Public testimony on the matter was a mixed bag, with some sitting on the fence.

“I’m not sure if this is the right method, but if you don’t have anything better, go for it,” said Jim Edmonds. “I would suggest you have a plan for how it’s used.”

Yukimura proposed the amendment go to the voters in November’s general election.

Bridget Hammerquist and Eileen Kechloian both pointed out the need to have money set aside for emergencies and that the electorate should be able to decide.

“Let the people vote, it makes them feel a part of it,” Kechloian said.

Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro questioned the public’s understanding of the issue, though, pointing out there was very little public participation in the budget process.

“You think the public knows the budget well enough to know the ramifications of this,” he asked. “Because the other side is our responsibility, finding that money and knowing the ramifications of tying our hands.”

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com.

8 Comments
  1. Steve Martin July 12, 2018 4:47 am Reply

    There are many creative ways to create funding for affordable housing and any other issues we must deal with. Sadly our council shows the lack of this creativity that is alive and well to those who will use it.


  2. Hair-Brained scheme number 800 July 12, 2018 5:54 am Reply

    Kudos to the council for rejecting BOTH of her “proposals” to spend other people’s money on ill advised ideas! So, she votes FOR the additional sales tax for Kauaians, then she proceeds to spend the revenue BEFORE it is even collected! And, she is running for mayor( again)….guess who I am NOT voting for!


  3. manawai July 12, 2018 8:09 am Reply

    I find it interesting that it appears that no one has cited a major reason we lack affordable housing. That reason is that we limit the height of buildings thereby preventing economically feasible development of multi-unit properties. A better solution would be to permit high rises, say in the Lihue area, that are wholly dedicated to affordable rental housing and/or affordable condominium units. Our limiting of buildings to the “height of a palm tree” is just another reason why we have made affordable housing a continuing problem. It’s a reflection on the fact that we value aesthetics more than we value helping those who are struggling to live here.


  4. livealoha July 12, 2018 8:50 am Reply

    Thank you Joanne! When I read that you were the lone “Aye” vote to put a charter amendment on the ballot for allocation of funds for affordable housing and LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE what they want their tax money spent on – you got my vote. I was going to vote for another candidate!!!! I hope other voters realize the importance of their votes. Good Luck in the race!


  5. Joe Public July 12, 2018 10:38 am Reply

    At least the other 6 saw through this desperate political move to get voters to vote for her in upcoming election.

    Joanne, save your money, withdraw from the race.


  6. Oingo boingo July 12, 2018 1:46 pm Reply

    Affordible housing is the single biggest issue here on kauai hands down by a land slide….
    I am saddened to see the council shut down this proposal before even giving the public a chance to vote on it…. and no alternative….
    At least Joann showed that she,has the creative mind that this island so desperately needs right now…
    JOANN YUKIMURA FOR MAYOR


  7. Lucky We Live Kaua’i July 12, 2018 2:51 pm Reply

    At the County Council meeting one of the members that voted the affordable housing resolution down and made it so the people of Kaua’i have no say in what goes into funding stated that it can’t go on the ballot because all the people of Kaua’i will vote for it. Many of the “no” voters on the council made it sound like the people of Kaua’i are unable to understand and only they can make the decisions about how the people’s money should be spent. The Councilmembers rebuttal of “what if there is a crisis on the island and that money is tied up in a housing fund” was heard frequently until it was explained to them that the flooding, the volcanic flow, tsunamis, hurricanes, all these kind of crisis create housing shortages as homes are destroyed. It would be more expeditious to have money immediately available in a housing fund than to have to go through having to find funds and get the necessary paperwork and voting done.

    The Council meeting was a well orchestrated sham, filled with illogical statements and inaccurate information presented by the “boys”. The people of Kaua’i should not vote the representatives of large landowners and large corporations back into positions of power as they truly aren’t looking out for the people.


  8. DavidKoloa July 12, 2018 4:00 pm Reply

    Good job Joaane. Proactive person. Wow actual “planning” . Take notes the rest of council.
    Thanks for calling every one “dumb” “cant understand” a budget. Thats insulting and the pot calling the kettle black. Its not pig farming thats for sure.

    Dave


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