Housing crisis lingers as additional rental unit bill deferred

LIHUE — A bill aimed at allowing homeowners to build small rental units on their land in order to help meet an affordable housing shortage was deferred to the end of February during a Kauai County committee meeting Wednesday.

Councilman Ross Kagawa said he would oppose Bill 2627 if there were not better provisions added into it regarding parking.

“I think going forward, that is one issue I hope planning will report to the planning commission is, what is going to be our policy on adding units and addressing parking,” Kagawa said.

He said there are already significant problems with parking in residential areas, because there are numerous families living under one roof, but they only have two parking stalls. Building additional rental units, he said, opens the door for more parking issues.

“Let me be clear that I will oppose any plan moving forward that does not address parking, because it is going to snowball on us,” Kagawa said.

Councilman Derek Kawakami agreed with Kagawa on the parking issue. He said parking issues have already created a public safety issue in a lot of neighborhoods because it causes problems for emergency personnel trying to respond to calls.

Kawakami also said there are many pieces to Kauai’s affordable housing puzzle that have to come together, but if properly put through, the ARU bill could be part of the solution.

“Thank you for the work,” he said. “I know this has been a long process, but it requires a long process because this thing has tremendous impacts on both sides.”

Some say the lack of affordable housing on Kauai is reaching a crisis situation. Many report struggling to find a place to live and having to seek shelter in cars and homes of relatives and friends.

During a public comment session Anne Punohu addressed concerns with some of the bill’s wording, including development within a 10-minute walking radius of Lihue, Puhi and Hanamaulu.

“It takes me a lot longer than 10 minutes to walk anywhere, so I’m a little concerned with the time limit clock put on where we put the housing,” Punohu said.

An even bigger concern, Punohu said, is assurance that the units will actually be affordable and representative of someone’s actual income, because Lihue and Puhi are right in the center of where the average workers on Kauai live. She said the state income doesn’t necessarily match that of the average worker because there are so many wealthy who live in Hawaii.

“We need to make sure that people have lovely apartments to live in that are for workers, not for rich people coming from the mainland or people to make money on,” Punoho said. “We want to make these rental units affordable for someone who’s earning an average wage on Hawaii, which is not that high.”

Another issue, she said, is to make sure that those who are renting out units illegally have the ability make them legal.

“That it’s not so much red tape that they give up and just continue to be illegal,” she said.

The bill was initially co-introduced to the council by former councilman Gary Hooser and current Councilman Mason Chock in 2016, but was deferred because it only applied to Puhi, Lihue and Hanamaulu, and the council wanted to consider opening the measure to all six districts on Kauai.

The bill was drafted by the Planning Department as a way to meet the expected need for 10,000 new housing units.

The bill was deferred to Feb. 28.

  1. Maile Leeman-Jones January 4, 2018 3:33 am Reply

    The writer is so far off course, it is sad. This bill is for ADU’s being built on PRIVATE PROPERTIES. I have followed this bill since it was introduced and it was never a goal to have it provide 10,000 needed units. So, as a private homeowners build an ADU’s with own hard earned money and it can be government regulated? That would be something coming out of a communist country and the entire bill, the intent, the reading and what was discussed today were taken totally out of context as if a space alien was interpreting it. Obviously, the writer and the persons quoted dont know what this bill is even about. It is a county backed bill, not a county funded bill. Duh…this whole article and it’s content are ignorant. Blah, blah, blah

  2. Steve Martin January 4, 2018 7:53 am Reply

    Very typical for our council to defer actions to a later date instead of coming to a solution. Keep kicking the can down the road. I cannot wait for election time to come again so we can kick them down the road!

  3. Smiley January 4, 2018 8:53 am Reply

    The state needs to give back the kuleanas. Why is all that land still state owned while good working people with families are forced to live in cars or with relatives?

  4. Notsoshyguy January 4, 2018 11:30 am Reply

    “Some say the lack of affordable housing on Kauai is reaching a crisis situation.” Reaching?! It is there already. Have you looked at Craigslist?! Studios are renting for $1500 a month! 2 and 3 bedrooms are over $2000 a month! If someone made a decent income of $20 an hour and worked a full 40-hour work week, they would take home (after taxes) about $2000 a month. If they are paying $2000 for a rental, how do they survive on nothing?! If they keep deferring this, there will be a time when people begin to build ramshackle places in the woods to live…oh wait, that has already happened. Get with the program, council. Addressing parking means nothing if people can’t even afford to own a car due to the rental prices.

  5. David Presley January 4, 2018 7:35 pm Reply

    It’s pretty easy my fellow citizens. As long as certain interest want more and more and more tourism and their precious dollar bills then housing will continue to go up. If you think building 10,000 units will help then you should stay off the drugs and out of politics. 10,000 units will mean more room for tourist. Reduce the number of flights, reduce the number of rental cars and then housing costs will go down. Its that easy. NO TAX DOLLARS SPENT. SIMPLE.

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