There is a better way to address affordable housing

  • Contributed photo

    Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo

After reading the article in The Garden Island newspaper about the council’s rejection of the Charter Amendment relating to affordable housing, I felt a need to provide additional clarification on the action taken by the council on this matter.

The Kauai County Council, at its meeting on July 11, thoroughly deliberated on Resolution No. 2018-23, “Resolution Proposing a Charter Amendment Relating to Affordable Housing.” While all councilmembers wholeheartedly support affordable housing, I and five of my colleagues could not support the extremely restrictive Charter Amendment Resolution that mandated 3 percent of all certified real property tax revenues be dedicated to a special budgetary fund for the sole purpose of funding affordable housing.

During the discussion, it was apparent that my colleagues and I disagreed with the introducer on the mechanism, not the need, for providing funding for affordable housing.

A Charter Amendment is not the appropriate method to address a budgetary matter. Funding for county projects, including affordable housing, should be done through the annual budget process or through a supplemental money bill introduced during the fiscal year.

We need to remember that the council, the body responsible for the budgetary and fiscal matters of the county, should be provided the opportunity to thoroughly vet the proposal and consider the fiscal implications that an annual mandated appropriation would have on county operations.

Once the council has had the opportunity to evaluate the proposal, we will have a much better idea of how the proposal should be funded — whether through a reduction in services or through the use of surplus funds identified after the fiscal year-end audit produced via the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Once this is done, we can then responsibly fund the many priorities of the County of Kauai, including affordable housing.

A charter in any corporate body defines the formal organization or framework, outlining the principles and functions of a corporate body. A charter sets up the organizational structure of an entity and should not be used to set or circumvent the budgetary process, a clear responsibility of the county’s legislative branch, the Kauai County Council.

The charter clearly prohibits the public from using the initiative and referendum process to change any fiscal or budgetary issues such as taxes, salaries, and the issuance of bonds because those who crafted the charter saw the potential downfall of allowing these types of matters to be decided by those other than the legislative branch in order to protect the County of Kauai from the ramifications of fiscal instability. This is the reason why I and many of my colleagues opposed this specific Charter Amendment proposal.

Affordable housing is not an easy problem to solve. We need to continue to work with our many partners, including the federal and state government, nonprofits, and others in the community to make additional affordable housing a reality. The council is committed to support funding for affordable housing through the budgetary or supplemental money bill process, as well as through collaboration and cooperation with our Housing Agency and county administration.

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Mel Rapozo is chair of the Kauai County Council.

17 Comments
  1. james July 15, 2018 7:32 am Reply

    In other words, you don’t want us, the voters, to have the power to decide if we want 3% of property tax money to be earmarked for affordable housing. You, and the other 5 who voted against it, want to be able to spend that money on other pet projects and don’t want to give up that power. Just be honest and say it instead of blowing smoke you know where.


  2. manawai July 15, 2018 7:50 am Reply

    Well said, Mel. Mahalo!


  3. Oingo boingo July 15, 2018 8:58 am Reply

    Kicking the can down the road….


  4. kimo July 15, 2018 9:26 am Reply

    Well said Councilman Rapozo. There are a great many problems facing Kauai – some that can be fixed more easily and quickly than others. Housing is a long term challenge and will require partnerships and cooperation. Tax incentives, easier permitting, subsidies should all be considered.

    I would suggest that additional time and focus be directed to some problems that could be easier and quicker to correct. I would urge that public facilities be kept clean and maintained properly. This does not require a charter amendment. Simple road maintenance should be prioritized.

    The County should do some simpler things first to create some feeling of success and accomplishment among staff and public.


  5. numilalocal July 15, 2018 10:49 am Reply

    Affordable housing is a dream. As long as people come here and buy homes market dynamics will prevail. Constitutionally, there is nothing that can be done to limit immigration (the Legislature tried in the ’60s and the ACLU shot the proposal down). Those who can afford to live here will and those who can’t will be forced to move. Unfortunately, it’s the local people who pay the price for the advantages of the financial elite.


  6. livealoha July 15, 2018 11:29 am Reply

    “Once the council has had the opportunity to evaluate the proposal” there’s a proposal?… “The charter clearly prohibits the public from using the initiative and referendum process”, I would love to see that. Can you please print that prohibition? “The council is committed to support funding for affordable housing through the budgetary or supplemental money bill process, as well as through collaboration and cooperation with our Housing Agency and county administration.” Really? I’m sure there must be a very long list of initiatives as the need for affordable housing is not a new issue. Please share what is being done otherwise this article is just rhetoric.


  7. RG DeSoto July 15, 2018 11:57 am Reply

    That’s right, Mel…if three decades of whining, government interference and obstruction has not improved the “affordable” housing situation, then maybe more of the same will work. Brilliant…read some of the studies that verify that it is government interference with the market that has screwed up housing.
    RG DeSoto


  8. RG DeSoto July 15, 2018 12:05 pm Reply

    Here’s something for you, Mel:
    https://mises.org/wire/how-governments-outlaw-affordable-housing
    RG DeSoto


  9. RG DeSoto July 15, 2018 12:09 pm Reply

    Mel:
    Just in case you’re in doubt:
    “It’s no secret that Seattle is one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, with median house prices approaching $820,000. Politicians and social activists will blame free markets and greedy capitalists for high housing costs, but these accusations are off the mark.

    As early as 2008, University of Washington economics professor Theo Eicher illustrated how government regulations contributed to Seattle’s home prices at the time.

    Eicher contends that Seattle median home prices doubled from 1989 to 2006 due to the following factors:

    the state’s Growth Management Act which restricts available land and creates artificial density;
    long building-permit approval times;
    building and permit fees;
    and municipal land-use restrictions

    These same restrictions have stayed in place and every time developers have tried to offer up affordable housing alternatives, politicians are quick to hamstring these efforts. This was put on display when planning bureaucrats put the clamps on cost-effective alternatives like “micro-housing ” through their alphabet soup of zoning restrictions.

    Politicians and the voting public largely continue to overlook zoning’s impact on housing prices. Instead, they look to top-down measures like head taxes and housing subsidies as quick fixes to problems such as housing affordability.” Jose Nino

    RG DeSoto


  10. Researched It July 15, 2018 12:32 pm Reply

    The public being barred from usurping Council budget responsibility using initiative or referendum is not the same as the Council placing a proposal to amend the Charter on the November ballot. It is legal for the Council to allow voters to approve or disapprove a measure committing a percentage of the County’s revenue to a specific objective. In fact, funding for “Open Spaces” is in the Kaua’i Charter. In 2002, the Council placed a proposal to amend the Charter which voters approved, creating an annual fund for “Open Spaces”. Funding is funding no matter whether “Open Spaces” or “Affordable Housing”. Open Space funding was placed in the Charter by the Kaua’i County Council through the resolution mechanism prior to the current County Council Members being on Council.

    Page 36 of Kaua’i Charter States,“C. Public Access, Open Space, Natural Resources Preservation Fund.
    (1) In adopting each fiscal year’s budget and capital program, the council shall appropriate a minimum of one- half of one percent of the certified real property tax revenues to a fund known as the public access, open space, natural resources preservation fund. The moneys in this fund shall be utilized for purchasing or otherwise acquiring lands or property entitlements for land conservation purposes in the county of Kauai for the following purposes: public outdoor recreation and education, including access to beaches and mountains; preservation of historic or culturally important land areas and sites; protection of significant habitats or ecosystems, including buffer zones; preserving forests, beaches, coastal areas and agricultural lands; protecting watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply; conserving land in order to reduce erosion, floods, landslides, and runoff; improving disabled and public access to, and enjoyment of, public land, and open space; acquiring disabled and public access to public land, and open space.”

    Read the Charter here: https://www.kauai.gov/Portals/0/Council/Documents/KauaiCharterCodified2016(Final).pdf?ver=2016-12-30-073908-933

    The proposed resolution was cleared by the Kaua’i County Attorney before it was proposed.


  11. Oingo boingo July 15, 2018 1:44 pm Reply

    DO the right thing kauai…..
    Reshuffle the council with fresh faces who really care about the local people(not just the ones greasing there pockets)….
    JOANN YUKIMURA FOR MAYOR..


  12. Researched It July 15, 2018 9:20 pm Reply

    Here is a working link to the Kaua’i Charter as the one above needed to be copy and pasted into your browser.

    https://www.kauai.gov/Portals/0/Council/Documents/KauaiCharterCodified2016(Final).pdf?ver=2016-12-30-073908-933


  13. I saw a Vampire once July 16, 2018 8:18 am Reply

    Affordable housing: what is the break down? And Where? Taken into account. The current council has no clue on a 2002 charter amendment. Open spaces. More elections needed. Who is Celia?


  14. Becky July 16, 2018 9:27 am Reply

    You don’t want the voters to control 3% of the taxes? You want to control them yourself so you can spend them on something else whenever you feel the need? Heaven forbid you lock in 3% of the taxes to affordable housing!!! You all have messed up so far, why don’t you let the voters give it a shot.


  15. manawai July 16, 2018 9:50 am Reply

    We could easily lower the cost of building affordable housing, but it comes down to a contest of the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”. The “Haves” (those who already own a home and who are not necessarily wealthy) don’t want anything more built and support as much regulation as possible for scenic preservation, rural preservation, so-called public safety building codes, historic preservation, extractions, limits on height, etc.. All of this makes doing any residential building a fiscal challenge at best, let alone building anything affordably. Incorrectly, the “Have Nots” blame the rich for their lack of affordable housing. Wrong! Because of all the regulations, public hearings, payoffs and extractions, etc., the only development that is economically feasible is market-priced housing. Our County and State governments could easily make it much cheaper to build affordably, but the “Haves” really don’t want that to happen no matter what they say publicly to pander to the “Have Nots”. And yet some of our politicians keep adding additional costs to building with their seemingly logical regulations they pile on developers.


  16. SoWhat? July 16, 2018 10:57 am Reply

    Sorry…all “funding” and reason for it, are NOT equal. “Affordable” housing does not and should not find a funding source from already over stretched property taxes. A property tax, any property tax is one of the most regressive taxes ever concocted against Kauai resident home and property owners…period. And to carve up the revenue is wrong for so many reasons. “Researched it” displays a textbook example of “false equivalency”…and because we may have made an error previously, do we need to keep repeating it? How about researching that? It was a wise choice made specifically against a career politician who wishes to have another shot at being mayor. Making it appear that anyone against this scheme does not support “Affordable Housing”. Bollocks! Just retire, Joann, or have you not gotten a large enough public pension to live “affordably” here on Kauai?


  17. Charlie Chimknee July 17, 2018 6:18 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    How many voters pay Property Tax? Having voters who don’t pay tax control the $$$ of those who do pay is clearly Mis-Representation Without Taxation…and is clearly: LET ME SPEND YOUR $$$ ON WHAT I WANT, AND WHAT I WANT IS TO HAVE WHAT YOU HAVE WITHOUT WORKING FOR IT.

    Many Home Owner couples each have 2 jobs in order to have purchased a home and to maintain it; or have well paying government jobs.

    Many (entitled) people getting Food Stamps and Free or Assisted Housing like HUD and Section 8, have No Job or 1/2 jobs, working the welfare system the rest of us pay for.

    Real affordable housing is dormitories sleeping on cots in military heavy canvas tents like the military lives in during Tropic Care.

    If you want affordable housing at $250,000.00 to $450,000.00 you just need more jobs, more hours.

    In most places in the world when housing gets tight, you just have to commute or live further away from city centers and most jobs…on islands when it gets too crowded, like the Marquesas, and Tahiti, the people moved to Hawaii…about 1,000 years ago or more.

    Now though, island dwellers, that can’t move further away but still need to be connected to population centers and connected to city centers, don’t move further OUT, they move further up…as in HONOLULU and Oahu, or Hong Kong, for example.

    10 story apartment buildings against the side of hills or wherever will be all that’s left to provide housing, so why not now and save the open spaces for all to enjoy.

    And who will those be who “win” the affordable housing whenever it’s built. Who will get their FREE rent paid and who will get FREE ownership.

    Did our Housing Director Kanani Fu say that there are currently 400 affordable housing units in the pipeline? What are the requirements to get these units. It seems it’s time to consider which job I should quit to be sure I qualify.

    Too many of us work too many jobs to support the people on welfare. The welfare recipients should be made to work, as cleaners, whether it be public toilets or shoreline debris, parks, trails, hospitals, or schools; no I.Q. Test required. Or even the endless filing of paper in government offices; I.Q. Test required.

    Mahalo

    Charles


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