LIHUE — The Kauai County Council unanimously voted Wednesday to approve exemptions for the Lima Ola Workforce Housing project to help ease an affordable housing crisis.
“We have a desperate situation, and the urgency for affordable housing weighs heavily on all of us,” said Councilman Gary Hooser.
Councilman Mason Chock agreed.
“The housing needs are astronomical, and I’m happy with the work that’s gone into the project,” he said. “What we can do, we should do.”
The exemptions, which are pursuant to Section 201H-38 of the Hawaii Revised Statues, include changing the land designation from agriculture to residential and re-zoning the property from agriculture to R-1, R-6 and project district.
The exemptions also call for a minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet, a minimum of two off-street parking spaces per unit and a minimum average lot area of 3,000 square feet.
Approving the exemptions accelerates movement on the development, shaving eight years off the timeline for the project. It will take 15 to 20 years for the build-out to be complete, said Kanani Fu, Housing Director.
The 75-acre development in Eleele is at the intersection of Halewili Road and Kaumualii Highway. It will add 550 residential units to Kauai’s affordable housing inventory.
Units include single -amily, multi-family and senior resident units, and will be available to households earning from 80 percent and below 140 percent of Kauai’s median household income.
The development will be completed in four phases. It will also have green sustainable energy efficiency features, a community center, vegetated drainage swales, landscaped areas, a water storage tank, and bike and pedestrian paths, according to a draft environmental assessment.
The first phase of the project will begin in the fall of 2017 and will bring in 149 single and multi-family units.
During the meeting, several Kauai residents spoke in favor of the Lima Ola Workforce Housing Project.
Fred Cruz, who lives in the Eleele IIuna Subdivision built by Habitat for Humanity, was one of them.
“There is a great need for affordable housing on the island, especially on the Westside,” he said. “With the cost of living in paradise increasing, there is no way a family can afford a house on the market these days. Projects like the ones with Habitat for Humanity and Lima Ola will help local families by affordable homes.”
Delilah Pundyke, a Hanapepe resident, said affordable housing options will give families a chance to make their dreams come true.
“I’m here on behalf of the low-income families to express that affordable housing anywhere on the island is needed,” she said. “This is going to give Westside families opportunities to be homeowners, and helps families like myself to attain our dream.”