Big Island officials discuss housing plans after lava flows

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Construction shouldn’t be prohibited in lava zones without compensating property owners for the lost use of their lands, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said.

The two lava zones with the highest risk of inundation include part of Puna and large subdivisions in the southwestern section of the island, West Hawaii Today reported .

In response to state officials advocating for construction restrictions, Kim said it doesn’t make sense to bar building in these areas because much of the island is within the zone designations.

“A lot of people purchase there because they want to live there, but a lot of people live there because that’s the only place they can afford,” Kim said following a Hawaii County Council meeting Tuesday.

Kim’s administration plans to deny rezoning to higher density developments in the first and second lava zones, he said.

The county council heard from department heads Tuesday about the process of creating emergency, short-term and long-term housing plans after hundreds of homes were destroyed or made inaccessible since the Kilauea volcano began erupting in May.

More than 200 people evacuated from homes remain in Pahoa and Keaau shelters, said Roxcie Waltjen, the parks and recreation director. The people remaining in the shelters were being interviewed to determine what is preventing them from entering more long-term shelters.

The county is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on intermediate housing plans. Dozens of transitional micro houses have been built or are under construction with dozens more being planned. The county is also looking for locations to hold more housing.


Information from: West Hawaii Today,


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