Maui County affordable housing panel blocks proposed project

WAILUKU — A proposed housing project criticized for setting prices too high has been rejected by the Maui County Council Affordable Housing Committee.

The panel voted 5-4 Monday against the development plan in Olowalu in northwest Maui, The Maui News reported Wednesday.

Landowner Peter Martin sought to develop 40 homes and 19 vacant lots for the project named Lihauula near Honoapiilani Highway.

Project supporters said workforce housing is sorely needed in west Maui, while opponents said the project is not affordable enough, threatens the health of Olowalu’s reef and impacts plans for a realignment of the highway.

The project plans included 40 three- and four-bedroom homes for residents earning between 80% and 140% of the area’s medium income, with maximum sale prices of $506,400 to $815,235.

The nine vacant lots of 10,000 square feet (929 square meters) each would be sold for rates between $250,000 and $350,000, while 10 vacant lots would be sold for rates between $350,000 and $500,000.

Lihauula LLC Project Manager Kyle Ginoza said the vote against the project denies families the opportunity to live in Olowalu.

“We truly believed that offering this project consisting of over two-thirds workforce homes without government grants or funding is admirable,” Ginoza said.

Ginoza and landowner Martin said Lihauula consists of 68% affordable housing.

Council Member Mike Molina, who voted against the project, criticized the price.

“$500,000? That’s unrealistic,” Molina said. “We have recently approved projects with low-end affordability in the $300,000 range.”

Council Chairwoman Alice Lee voted in favor of the project and said confusion surrounds affordable housing prices, where higher-end homes help support those on the lower-end of the price scale.

“A lot of times people forget that affordable housing is really subsidized housing, housing that was not meant to be free,” Lee said.

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