Letters for Monday, October 25, 2021

Infrastructure before housing

This letter is being written out of frustration from sitting in traffic.

Hello, elected officials, “Hold your horses” when it comes to putting hundreds of more houses of any new building projects in motion, be they affordable or conventional. Speaking of horses, here we go again, putting the cart before the horse.

We must improve our infrastructure first! We need more lanes and roads.

Have you tried leaving Kapa‘a to Lihu‘e, or Lihu‘e to the south and west sides? It’s a nightmare right now.

Let’s be smart about this. Why would we put hundreds more cars on our roads when we can’t handle what we have now. We need our leaders to think about the future of our island, and the answer is not more housing until we are prepared for it. End of story.

Linda Bothe, Kalaheo

Pay people a livable wage

There is no question that we need affordable housing on Kaua‘i.

But when we provide subsidized housing, using tax dollars, we are subsidizing the low wages being paid by businesses.

It’s not just a Kaua‘i County issue, of course. It’s a state and federal problem.

Minimum wage is kept ridiculously low and is not livable, and yet we expect people to work for that. Plenty of workers, especially at or just above minimum wage, are quitting for a variety of reasons. That could be substantially less if they were paid enough to live on.

In the unusual event of the minimum wage being raised substantially, it would be much harder on small businesses, and so would need to be taken into consideration. Corporate-owned companies and resorts seem to be charging enough to pay higher wages but don’t, though some have increased their pay.

Let’s get the minimum up enough to increase earnings for those earning above it as well. When someone goes to work every day they should earn enough to live.

If you look up other countries’ minimums it will show as converted to the U.S. dollar, but their countries have a different price scale for things like health care, education, medications, etc. One example is Australia’s minimum wage of $20.33 AUD, which when converted to USD is $12.14. But it isn’t used to pay rent here. It does pay the rent and more in Australia.

From TGI 10/20/21: “Massachusetts Institute of Technology puts the living wage in Kaua‘i County at $18.79 per hour for a single adult with no children, while the state’s 2019 Housing Planning Study put the wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom rental at a fair market rate at $29.06 per hour.”

Full-time minimum-wage earners cannot afford rent anywhere in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. does not even appear on the list of the top 10 countries paying the highest minimum wage. For the good of our country that needs to change.

Paulo Tambolo, Wailua Homesteads

21 Comments
  1. kimo October 25, 2021 7:34 am Reply

    WOW!! Two excellent letters today. I agree completely. Thanks to the writers for their time, effort and thoughts.


  2. james October 25, 2021 7:36 am Reply

    I couldn’t agree more Linda. If the County wants to use their eminent domain powers so badly, they should use them to acquire easements through several of the old cane roads so that there are alternate routes directly from, for example, Anahola to Lihue and from Hanapepe to Lihue to ease some of the traffic bottlenecks in Kapaa and Kalaheo. Not only is day-to-day traffic a nightmare, but when there is an accident and the KPD closes the roads in both directions, there are zero alternate routes in case of an emergency, Get your priorities straight, elected officials. Focus on projects that help the many instead of the few. We don’t need more cars on the Island.


  3. LMat October 25, 2021 9:39 am Reply

    The housing project in question is aimed at providing workforce housing for local residents. That is, affordable housing for low to middle-income local residents already in the Kauai workforce. So, basically, families who are already living and working here and are struggling to pay ridiculous rent or living in multigenerational households. This housing project is not intended to attract out-of-state buyers, at least, that’s what was conveyed to the public by the county. It would not “put hundreds more cars on the road”. These cars are already on the road.


    1. MatL October 25, 2021 5:35 pm Reply

      The rental spaces vacated by these low to middle income families will be filled with new arrivals. With cars. Think.


      1. LMat October 27, 2021 9:52 am Reply

        Do you really think so…?? Because I highly doubt it. Most likely they will be filled with more local low- to middle-income families who will continue to struggle to pay ridiculous amounts of rent.
        I think most of the commenters here, including yourself, have not had to struggle to find housing. Go look on Craigslist right now for even a moderately affordable family-sized rental. Go ahead. And come back here and continue to try and justify NOT attempting to alleviate some of that by blocking the creation of housing projects because you think you might have to sit in traffic for an extra 20 minutes….
        You want the number of cars on the road reduced?!! Focus on the rental cars. We’ve already seen what a drastic difference it makes when less rental cars are available. Further limiting the amount of affordable housing on island is not the answer.


        1. james October 29, 2021 7:59 am Reply

          The reality is that not everyone who wants to live on Kauai, or in San Francisco or Hong Kong, etc, can afford to do so. I don’t oppose affordable housing. The law of supply and demand doesn’t care if you are a 6th generation Kauaian or just moved here, and that is the economic system we have. I just believe that our tax dollars should be spent on infrastructure that benefits the majority of residents and let the private sector build affordable housing.


  4. Sam G October 25, 2021 10:00 am Reply

    I appreciate Paulo’s sincere concern, but when I look at the results of the polices he has advocated I see things getting worse.


  5. Doug October 25, 2021 10:43 am Reply

    If you will recall, during the early months of the pandemic, there were no traffic issues. That was when all the rental cars were sitting in the parking lot of the old K-mart (now Target). Ah, the good old days!


  6. Jesse October 25, 2021 11:50 am Reply

    Why do people still believe that minimum wage is alone supposed to support them or a family? Crazy how many adults refuse to train for better careers or start their own businesses. Nobody ever got rich working for someone else…


    1. Duh October 25, 2021 8:57 pm Reply

      Probably because it is called a MINIMUM WAGE which is the minimum amount paid to pay for basic necessities including housing.


      1. Jesse October 26, 2021 10:29 am Reply

        Perhaps a minimum wage works great in Kentucky but in Hawaii you’ve got to be kidding! It no more supports an individual in Hawaii anymore than it would in San Francisco or Manhattan. Again, start your own business and work on yourself rather than others.


  7. commonsense October 25, 2021 12:51 pm Reply

    With regards to the ‘Livable wage’. It is not a business owners obligation or duty to provide a ‘livable wage’ for all of its’ employees. A minimum wage is meant to be a wage suitable for a worker to provide the duties required for a specific job at a fair wage. A minimum wage job is typically not meant as a career to provide for a family. Many minimum wage jobs are tipping jobs where workers can actually make more than a ‘living wage’ comfortably.

    Unfortunately, it is expensive to live in Hawai’i and it will only get more expensive. I agree that the minimum wage should be higher, but not a truly ‘livable wage’. This would keep the workforce from growing with people fixed in a certain position with no incentive to grow. As a business owner I pay well over the minimum wage and I, and I’m sure other business owners, would be more than happy to pay more if it wasn’t mandatory to provide medical insurance to all employees who work 20 + hours a week. This cost to the employer can add $3 to $5/hour on top of the regular wage.

    If the minimum wage were to be raised to $18.79/hour, you would see businesses closing or prices would rise even more to make up for that increase therefore making for no actual growth in the wage. Unfortunately, it is a sad truth. A better alternative would be for landlords to charge a ‘fair ‘ rent, but that’s a whole different discussion.


    1. RSW October 25, 2021 4:04 pm Reply

      Agree.
      The “living wagers” employ the fallacy of false dilemma. They are quick to apply it to those capable of rational thinking and who recognize the reasons why minimum wages are not always, if at all, in the best interest of those being “helped”. You know: you are either for less skilled workers or against them whether you support or reject the notion of a “living wage”.
      I like to employ the adverb “ad absurdum” to the argument: why only $15 or $19 per hour? If you really “care” about the unskilled and unprepared workers, why not $30 or $40 per hour? That should help…right?
      RSW


  8. Will G October 25, 2021 2:58 pm Reply

    I’m with Linda. She has a lot of Truth going on in her letter.


  9. Dt October 25, 2021 8:26 pm Reply

    Typical rent prices are controlled by the county based on the number of bedrooms and whether utilities are included or not. The rent price is based on a percentile of income level. If minimum wage is increased, wouldn’t the base rent price also increase?


  10. Jjjames October 26, 2021 6:12 am Reply

    Minimum wage.
    Doesn’t anyone see the irony of this debate ?! How often do we have to get on this band wagon?.. or maybe I should say, “merry-go-round”.
    -We want higher wages because we can’t afford to live on what we make now.
    -The “cost of living” is too high.
    -We need to make more money.

    If the employers are forced to increase their payroll, they will be forced to increase the prices of their services and/or products. Everyone is affected by that increase, including those that got the wage increase. And remember, those are the ones that are earning only “minimum” wage.
    Even $15 per hour is only $31k per year. That’s still poverty level.
    Why don’t we make everyone wealthy and make the minimum wage $30 per hour so we can all make at least $60K per year. Then we’d all be happy.
    Maybe, instead of the county spending so much of our tax dollars building “affordable” housing, it may be better to spend that money providing “relocation assistance” to help people move to where the cost of living isn’t so high.


  11. Joe Public October 26, 2021 2:23 pm Reply

    Totally agree with Linda’s comment. Most logical words I have seen yet concerning this issue.

    Maybe go teach the council what we “normal” people have to deal with daily so the can understand that a lot of their decisions lately, frankly, “SUCKS”.


  12. Kaaona Kipuka October 26, 2021 3:29 pm Reply

    WOW!!! Really Linda you think you’re the first person to make this statement??? LOL!!! We actually need less of both (people & cars) volunteers needed!!! Born & Raised!!!
    #fromherenotflownhere


  13. Leilani October 28, 2021 4:31 am Reply

    Take classes in business and see why wages can be a big problem. It’s complicated to own a business and to prepare for ……a pandemic or whatever may come along in the future.
    Most low-paying jobs are not meant to be career jobs – they are meant for teens or immigrants who often live together to save on rent.
    Stop eating out so much – that is another thing your elders did not do when they were young and it saves money.
    Take classes at night – or online. That will help you get ahead by showing you are willing to work harder!


  14. Leilani October 28, 2021 4:39 am Reply

    Take classes even when you have children. You can take them at night or take online classes that fit into your schedule. That shows the employer you are willing to work hard but it also may bring you more personal self-esteem!


  15. Leilani October 28, 2021 4:45 am Reply

    When I was young, I had a grand mal seizure and so couldn’t drive for a year. I had to ride a bicycle in the snow to work sometimes.
    There are many people working who have disabilities so think positive and always do your best – you can rise in an organization – put your best foot forward!


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