Workforce housing bill goes public

THE GARDEN ISLAND

Developers seeking to build residential subdivisions and resorts on rezoned lands must comply with a standard formula for building affordable housing under a proposed Kaua‘i County Council bill.

If it becomes law, the measure will require developers to donate 10 percent of their project sites for affordable single-family homes or multi-family units.

If a developer chooses not to participate in the “workforce housing” program proposed in the bill, the council must approve any of a number of options, including in-lieu fees or other types of compensation.

The units built will benefit low-income residents, to gap-income housing residents such as teachers, police officers and nurses, to employees at the new projects, county housing specialist Ken Rainforth said in an interview Friday.

The Committee on Community Assistance and Intergovernmental Relations has scheduled a workshop on two articles of the county’s housing policy ordinance from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the historic County Building.

The council is reviewing the measure at the committee level, and plans to hold future workshops and possibly make a decision on the bill as soon as four months, said committee member and councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.

“The county is asking that developers provide 40 percent workforce housing,” Rainforth said. “It will provide housing for local folks who want to stay on the island.”

The county has assessed developers affordable housing requirements on a case-by-case basis in the past, drawing long-standing criticism from councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who has asked for such a bill to be enacted.

If passed, the bill would establish a standard assessment formula for the first time in the county’s history, officials say.

“Somebody coming in for a zoning change will be assessed this workforce housing requirement,” Rainforth said.

The requirement would apply to residential projects of five homes or more and resort projects with 50 or more rooms, or resorts, commercial and industrial projects that generate 100 or more new full-time jobs.

On the residential side, the developer has to donate 10 percent of its project site to the county, including the infrastructure.

The size of the land must be large enough to provide affordable units equal to 10 percent of the total number of market project units that are built, having a density that is no greater than 14 units per acre, the ordinance states.

The county will produce housing for households whose incomes are at least 80 percent of Kaua‘i’s median income for a household of four — $60,500 — Rainforth said. The ordinance indicates developers and nonprofit groups also would build such units.

“The point for the workforce housing program is that the county is trying to provide housing for every income group ranging from low-income to the gap group,” Rainforth said.

The bill would benefit people whose incomes are within the range of 80 percent, to 180 percent of the median income, he said.

Households with incomes that are 80 percent to 120 percent of the median can get into leasehold units, he said.

Where developers once put affordable housing away from their project sites, they will now have to integrate the affordable units among market units, Rainforth said. The only exception would apply to hotel projects.

Yukimura has pushed for the integration of such units at other projects.

The bill also would allow developers to build rental units instead of build-for-sale units, Rainforth said.

If they don’t want to participate in the workforce housing program, they can provide land, or an in-lieu fee, which would be the difference between the median sale price of market units and the price for an affordable unit, Rainforth said.

The difference cannot exceed $250,000 per unit, whether it is an “affordable” single-family home or multi-family use unit, he said. It must also be approved by the County Council.

In a news release, Bernard Carvalho, director of the Offices of Community Assistance, encouraged people to attend the workshop and give comment.

“The policy will have long-range effects on the entire community so it’s important that we hear from all segments of the community on this,” said Iseri-Carvalho, the chairwoman of the Community Assistance and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Copies of the proposed bill are available at the County Clerk’s office at the Historic County Building and on the county Web site: www.kauai.gov

Call 241-6371 for more information.

Interested in housing policy?

What: Workshop on county’s housing policy ordinance

Where: Historic County Building

When: Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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