Public discusses ARU bill

LIHUE — Opinions were mixed Wednesday as Kauai residents spoke during a public hearing that concerned a proposed bill that will allow property owners to build additional rental units, or ARU’s.

Nancy Kaana, a representative from the Kauai Board of Realtors, said she and the KBR supports the bill.

“Based on figures of projected population growth, by the year 2035, there will be a need for 3,200 residential units on Kauai. At present, there’s an immediate need for 1600 units” Kaana said. “It takes years for a development project to get off the ground and it takes millions of dollars that the county doesn’t have.”

Because of that, it’s time to turn to the private sector—the local people, Kaana said.

Lonnie Sykos questioned the affordability of affordable housing.

“The cost of both land and construction is (expensive and prohibits) creating affordable housing,” he said.

Curt Bossard agreed.

“So far, affordable housing does not appear to be affordable,” he said. “Thousands of property owners have chosen to utilize their own properties to house their children and grandchildren, and to subsidize their income through a rental.”

Usually the homes are “modest” and not permitted to be dwelling units, Bossard added.

“These are the only units people can afford,” he said.

The Kauai Council meeting took a brief recess Wednesday afternoon to give the public a chance to voice their opinions on Bill No. 2627.

The bill seeks allow some property owners in the Lihue Community Planning area to construct ARU’s.

It also “encourage(s) and accommodate(s) the construction of additional rental units and to increase the number of affordable rental units in the Lihue Planning District without substantially altering existing neighborhood character, in order to alleviate the housing shortage on Kauai,” the bill states.

Under Bill No. 2627, qualified property owners will be allowed to build ARU’s, which will be rented to Kauai residents.

According to the Lihue Community Plan, which was approved in June 2015, the county expects to need an additional 10,000 new housing units to accommodate resident population between 2010 and 2035.

“The population on our beautiful island is inevitable. Do we want to send our children somewhere else, or do we want to find solutions to create housing on Kauai,” Kaana said. “The aim of the bill is to provide some relief to the housing shortage, it will not solve it,” Kaana said.

Sykos suggested re-defining the term dwelling.

“Perhaps what we should do is change our perspective of what dwellings are, and ways to minimize cost,” he said. “We need to think out of the box, or we’ll never get affordable housing.”

Bill No. 2627 will be discussed in committee on May 11.

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