Council combats housing crisis

LIHUE — Whenever he looks at a child, Councilman Ross Kagawa wonders if he or she will have a house as an adult.

“I don’t know what’s in store for them,” Kagawa said Wednesday. “When I was young, I knew I’d have a house. But when you look at our children, with the high cost of living, I don’t know where they’re going to live.”

That is why Kagawa, along with council members Arryl Kaneshiro, KipuKai Kuali’i and Mel Rapozo, council chair, voted to approve a bill that allows additional dwelling units to be built on ag land.

Council members Gary Hooser, JoAnn Yukimura and Mason Chock did not attend the meeting for personal reasons.

Bill No. 2601 amends the county code relating to ADU’s by removing the deadline for those units to be built. Per the code, ADUs had to be built by 2024.

“We’ve secured a plan for them now,” Kagawa said.

Because Kauai is in a housing crisis, the county needs to loosen its reins, Kaneshiro added.

“It’s providing an additional house we won’t need to provide elsewhere on the island,” he said. “We have many people who will benefit, and there will be a lot less stress. They can plan and know they aren’t going anywhere.”

Kaneshiro also said he supports the measure because there’s a limited number of people who will be allowed to build.

“It’s not opening up floodgates,” he said.

The number of people eligible to build ADUs on ag land is about 200. Eligible ADUs are those who received building permit before December 2006. Any permits issued after 2007 are not eligible, Rapozo said.

Rapozo said he supports the bill because it limits the number of people able to build on ag land.

“These were the remnants of the old ohana dwellings years ago,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everyone. We need housing, and hopefully this will allow some people to build.”

But some Kauai residents, like Bruce Hart, did not support the measure.

He argued the bill has the potential to increase population density.

“I understand the need for housing, but in this is a short-term solution,” he said. “If you increase density, it could potentially be forever.”

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