Survey confirms the top concerns of residents

A statewide survey conducted for the Hawaii Association of Realtors found two things that topped the list for a majority of residents across the islands. Want to guess what they are? No surprises here: traffic and affordable housing.

Eight-six percent of the respondents agreed traffic is one of the most pressing issues facing their communities and 85 percent feel lack of affordable housing is a significant concern.

Those two issues are becoming more and more of a concern in Hawaii as populations continue to increase on the islands. Coming in third was strong support, 72 percent, to allow short short-term rentals in residential areas.

Now, you can dismiss surveys, as many do, or you can heed them. We think it’s best to pay attention.

“The goal of our survey was to establish a community benchmark and to begin a substantive dialogue on where the state is and where it is headed in two to five years. The survey points to the genuine issues affecting the quality of life for our families and communities,” said Susan Savage, president of HAR.

“We are confident that, as the state legislative session approaches its midpoint, policy makers will make the tough decisions in the best interest of all residents of Hawaii,” she added.

A few keys rose to the surface with this one conducted last fall of 658 Hawaii residents. The research, conducted by Ward Research, has a margin of error of +/- 3.82 at 95 percent confidence level. It provides an idea of what the challenges are today and will continue to be in the future unless steps are taken to find solutions — which will certainly be costly.

On Kauai, traffic was first (19 percent), followed by environmental concerns (13 percent) and crime/public safety (12 percent.)

On Oahu, the leading top-of-mind issue for respondents was traffic (27 percent) followed by homelessness (22 percent) and affordable housing (5 percent.)

Residents on Hawaii Island are concerned about homelessness (16 percent), drugs (12 percent) and traffic (10 percent). Maui residents’ top issues were affordable housing (17 percent), traffic (16 percent) and public education (7 percent.)

Also on Kauai 66 percent of resident respondents strongly agree affordable housing is important and another 28 percent agreeing somewhat.

The survey revealed that in general, the lack of availability of any kind of housing was seen as an issue across the state — 95 percent of respondents on Kauai agree, and 83 percent on Maui; on Hawaii Island, 82 percent, and Oahu, 79 percent.

On short term rentals in residential areas the responses to either allow freely or allow with a property manager were: 78 percent of Hawaii Island respondents; 73 percent on Kauai, 72 percent on Maui and 71 percent on Oahu.

Statewide, only 16 percent feel public school students in their communities are getting an excellent education. Another 39 percent somewhat agree education is excellent.

Medical care was a notable issue in the survey statewide. More than half (56 percent) agreed that there is a lack of quality doctors and medical care. Residents on Hawaii Island (81 percent) and Maui (71 percent) were more likely than Oahu residents (49 percent) to perceive a lack of quality doctors and medical care in their communities.

Just short of 60 percent of responders statewide support increasing urban density rather than spreading out into rural areas.

Not surprisingly, those who responded aren’t wild about tax hikes. The survey found there appears to be little support across the state for increasing gasoline taxes, vehicle weight taxes or registration fees to fund new highway projects — 69 percent of respondents were opposed.

This survey makes it clear that traffic and housing remain the primary concerns for residents on Kauai, and across all the state. It is also clear our legislators have their work cut out for them as they tackle these two very critical issues that most affect those who call Hawaii home.

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