LIHUE — A vision for Kauai’s children to accomplish their dreams on Kauai is why Billy De Costa is running for the Kauai County Council.
This is the third time the environmental resource teacher with the state of Hawaii has run, but despite losing his first two races, he said he can’t give up the fight.
In his position, De Costa said he meets every fourth and fifth grader on Kauai, with some traveling to participate in his program from other islands. They all ask him if it’s possible for them to live and work on the island they came from like their parents.
“It hurts me when I tell them the truth that maybe one day they’re going to have to live in Vegas or Oregon or someplace cheaper. I didn’t raise my three sons with my wife on this island to have them move away where I get to see them once a year because they can’t afford to buy a home,” the 53-year-old said.
In 2000, De Costa and his wife bought 10 acres of land in Omao that contained two homes. They rent out the homes to local families and own a third home he built, where they live with their three boys.
“We made a small dream come true when not too many people can say that they were able to do their accomplishment and it’s kind of sad because I’d like to see everybody be able to live on a piece of property that they worked hard for and purchased,” he said.
The lack of truly affordable housing is one of Kauai’s biggest issues, he said.
“I really respect the Habitat for Humanity and the process and the amount of mortgage around $200,000 that our local families can afford. That’s affordable housing,” he said.
As a councilmember, he said he’d work with the island’s largest developers to have land set aside for affordable housing.
“I think we need to do a greater job as far as negotiating with large developers in what they give back to the community,” he said.
Other issues he’s concerned about are the island’s infrastructure, roads and traffic.
“Quality of life here on Kauai diminishes every day with the large amounts of tourists that are just trampling our ecosystem. We are a tourist-based industry, sad to say after the agricultural industry, but our holding capacity on the island has been maxed out and our ecosystem can only take so much traffic, so we need to be very sensitive to our environment” he said.
Kauai needs alternative routes, De Costa said.
Kauai residents are a special group of people with a special culture, he said.
“We are a melting pot of many different backgrounds, so we are a diverse culture and it’s evaporating when we allow others to come with the mindset that’s not like we were raised and it changes who we are, it changes what we do, it changes our traditions and what we’re allowed to do and I would like to see our quality of life continue to improve, not diminish,” he said.
Ultimately, De Costa said his dream is for the children of Kauai to have a good quality of life, where they can be proud and call it their home, where they can live and work and appreciate the traditions of culture that their family members have passed down to them.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached to 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.