Council addresses housing, Sunshine Law

LIHU‘E — Written testimony regarding the lifted Sunshine Laws was brought to the attention of the Kaua‘i County Council’s at its April 22 meeting.

One public commentary cited the pace of a bill to allow for two or more multiple-family units to be developed on any size land going through since the Sunshine Law waived at the moment.

However, councilmembers refuted this claim.

“It was laid out in some of the testimony that we were rushing this through … with the Sunshine Law being raised and not taking public testimony on it,” councilmember Luke Evslin said, noting that this ordinance had been considered in June 2019, February and most recently earlier this month.

“We reviewed this again in committee, so we’ve had three opportunities already to discuss it. Two of them were before the sunshine law was lifted,” he explained.

The state’s Sunshine Law, which proposes open meetings, requires boards and agencies to provide notices of a meeting six days in advance, an agenda and allow the public to submit written or oral commentary.

Gov. David Ige suspended the state’s public records and open meeting laws on March 16 through mid-May as a social distancing measure as the COVID-19 pandemic began to ramp up in the state.

There was more testimony submitted since last meeting, one regarding concerns that councilmembers would benefit from the passing of this bill.

Evslin, who introduced Bill No. 2755, said he would not since he lives on an R-6 lot, and didn’t believe any of his fellow council members would either.

Evslin who has a 700 square-foot lot, and has the allowance for an additional dwelling unit (ADU), said that this policy can provide alternative housing with no changes to density laws, which are determined by zones.

“We have this incredibly dire housing crisis,” Evslin continued, saying that hearing his neighbors isn’t an issue.

“I have a house and can live on Kaua’i and raise my family on the island I was born,” Evslin said. “That is more than most in my generation can say.”

Councilmember Felicia Cowden, who was not opposed to the bill, had brought up density for constituents.

“I’m wanting to honor people who seem to have a strong opinion on this,” she said.

This “house-keeping bill” is set to bring residents into compliance, Cowden said.

The bill passed on its second reading unanimously.

In other business, the council approved a 75-year ground lease to continue the development of a 54-unit affordable housing unit in Lihu‘e.

The Pua Loke Housing Development will include multi-family rental housing units off Pua Loke Street and Haleko Road. Units will be one-, two-, and three-bedroom style apartments in three, four-story buildings on a county-owned 1.49 parcel of land.

Units will serve householding earning between 30%-100$ of the island’s median income, or in other words between roughly $21,744 and $78,482.

Additionally, there will be units designated for those facing homelessness.

In other business, the council approved a ground lease between the county and the Pua Loke Housing Partners LP for a

Last year, there were concerns this development would not be consistent with existing Lihu‘e community plans, which Housing Director Adam Roversi said is untrue, in past The Garden Island reports.

There was no discussion of this item, which was approved unanimously.

  1. HAD April 24, 2020 4:42 pm Reply

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