CC&R bill stalls with councilmembers’ tie vote
LIHU‘E — The fate of legislation sponsors say is crucial to fixing the island’s housing crisis has been delayed after councilmembers’ prolonged debate resulted in a tied vote last week.
Draft One of Bill No. 2834, if passed by the Kaua‘i County Council, would prevent housing developers from crafting covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) more restrictive than the county’s own Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO).
Such CC&Rs, according to bill co-author Councilmember Luke Evslin, lock local families out of certain neighborhoods by preventing the construction of additional dwelling units (ADUs) and additional rental units (ARUs).
“I don’t think I could be on Kaua‘i right now unless I was able to do an ARU in my downstairs. The point here is to give more people that opportunity,” Evslin said at the Feb. 23 council meeting before a vote to pass the bill was taken. “You allow more people to own homes, you allow more multi-generational households to stay together, and you also, at the same time, increase the rental stock.”
Evslin garnered the aye votes of Council Vice Chair Mason Chock and Councilmember KipuKai Kualiʻi (Councilmember and bill co-author Bernard Carvalho was excused from this meeting).
County Planning Department Director Ka‘aina Hull and county Managing Director Mike Dahilig also voiced their offices’ support of the measure.
But Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro and Councilmembers Billy DeCosta and Felicia Cowden voted against the legislation.
“I do think it’s overreaching … I think it makes it more difficult for the developer to predict what their development is going to be like,” Kaneshiro said, arguing the bill could create a chilling effect among prospective developers.
“I want to see more housing, but I don’t want this to be a reason someone’s not going to develop a subdivision, either,” he continued, noting he has opposed the bill since its introduction.
DeCosta and Cowden expressed more-ambivalent attitudes than Kaneshiro throughout much of the meeting.
Both appeared to make their final decisions toward the end of what DeCosta called “one of the most-intense discussions I’ve been exposed to” while on council.
Cowden, like Kaneshiro, cited questions raised by the Kaua‘i Water Department regarding potential ramifications related to water infrastructure, when outlining her hesitancy to support the CC&R bill.
She also expressed worry the legislation would exacerbate overspill parking on neighborhood streets, among other issues related to increased housing density.
Hull sought to assuage councilmembers’ concerns.
“This bill has nothing to do with the density of a property. That’s already in place … you can build ARUs, you can build guest houses, you can build single-family dwellings right now,” Hull said. “Today, without this bill in play, when I send a proposal for construction for a subdivision at R1 capability (to the water department), they’re already assessing it at the fact that each one-acre lot could qualify for a house, an ARU and a guesthouse.”
DeCosta believed the legislation could result in more housing units available on Kaua‘i, but was unconvinced it would be to locals’ benefit.
“You might solve the rental problem, but you’re not solving locals owning homes,” he argued. “All it does is create an inventory surplus for a wealthy Westerner to buy their home.”
The council meeting’s concluding three-three tie vote effectively deferred Bill No. 2834 until next week, when Carvalho will be present.
Carvalho, Kaneshiro noted, will most likely vote in favor of the bill he introduced with Evslin.
Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.
We need ADU on AG zoned lands please…….
Well that’s the predictable result of uneducated people who are speculating about things that they know absolutely nothing about…. how much did that waste of time cost taxpayers???
Show us the audit…..