Understanding the Affordable Housing Crisis - Community Coalition Kauai
On April 23, 2019, Community Coalition Kaua’i held it’s first learning forum on Understanding the Affordable Housing Crisis on Kaua’i. With a head count of 75+ community members in attendance, the evening’s primary objectives were threefold
affordable housing, housing crisis kauai , affordable housing crisis, affordable housing crisis on kauai,
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Understanding the Affordable Housing Crisis

Understanding the Affordable Housing Crisis

CCK’s FOCUS ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
Report on the Affordable Housing Learning Forum

On April 23, 2019, Community Coalition Kaua’i held it’s first learning forum on Understanding the Affordable Housing Crisis on Kaua’i. With a head count of 75+ community members in attendance, the evening’s primary objectives were threefold:

  • 1) to understand our own history that brought us to this crisis and identify what we can learn that is useful in moving us forward;
  • 2) to deepen our understanding of how both the private and public sector are working towards increasing the inventory of affordable housing, and what they need to accelerate the pace of adding to the inventory of affordable units; and
  • 3) to make sure we are asking the right questions so we can turn the tide on this crisis and make affordable housing accessible to everyone in our community.

If you missed the forum and would like to see it you can view the video recording of the live stream from our Facebook Page. 

Expert Panelists

The evening opened with presentations and a panel discussion among our five
affordable housing experts:

  • JOANN YUKIMURA: The History of Housing on Kauai and How it Lead Us to the
    Affordable Housing Crisis
  • STEPHEN SPEARS: Habitat for Humanity, the Sweat Equity Model
  • LUKE EVSLIN: Does Kauai’s Housing Crisis Need Supply-side or Demand-side
    Solutions?
  • KANANI FU: Kauai County Housing Agency’s Affordable Housing Plan
  • LARRY GRAFF: How the Neighborhood Housing Community Development
    Corporation (NHCDC) Brings a New Vision to Affordable Housing for Kauai

We also had two special guests in the audience speak from their own personal experience about the affordable housing crisis and how it has impacted their lives.

Shana Cruz, who is a Habitat for Humanity recipient spoke about how she had to rethink her own life commitments in order to qualify for the Habitat program, how it helped change other aspects of her life and that of her family by becoming a home owner, and how she is committed to helping others participate in the program and turn their own lives around just as Shana did. Jean Marie McEntee spoke about the current situation at Courtyard at Waipouli and the failure of an inclusionary zoning model that was executed with a ten year sunset clause on 41 affordable housing rental units, requiring all of these households to vacate there units effective August 2019.

The net result is that 41 households are back in the market place competing for already scarce affordable housing opportunities.

Recommendations From Panelists

Three important elements necessary for meeting our affordable housing needs were laid out for the five panelists. The question was posed to the panelists was: “Please speak to how you would like to see each of these elements better addressed or enhanced in order for your organization or interests to best contribute to the
acceleration of the building of the affordable housing inventory.”

§ ELEMENT 1: A fair and effective housing ordinance that supports and
encourages increasing and then maintaining our inventory of affordable housing

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PANELISTS:
– Address the issue of maintaining permanent affordability instead of short term sunset clauses that allow affordable housing to be converted to market value housing after a short period of time, thus reducing the inventory of affordable housing (e.g., Courtyard at Waipouli)
– Need to re-visit the question of what is the right percentage of affordable housing units for inclusionary zoning (currently 30% for developments on 9 acres and over)
– Create ordinance(s) that provide incentives for profit and non-profit developers to build more affordable housing units
– Need to ensure there is a balanced approach to the inclusionary zoning ordinance
– Create ordinance(s) that incentivize mix-used development (e.g.; commercial space plus residential)
– County should make available more land and infrastructure to support affordable housing development

§ ELEMENT 2: Availability and access to needed capital and land for building affordable housing

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PANELISTS:
– County feels that land for affordable housing is difficult to obtain (need for more land as part of affordable housing partnership building)
– According to the Habitat for Humanity model, the greatest costs in building affordable housing pertain first to infrastructure development, then the cost of building the affordable housing structure
– Capital is the first requirement because with that, land can be acquired and infrastructure developed
– The tax credits for affordable housing apply to the development of the land, but not the acquisition of the land, we should re-think tax credits

§ ELEMENT 3: A strategy for providing adequate infrastructure for affordable housing

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PANELISTS:
– Access to sewer and water are key to expanding the affordable housing inventory
– Affordable housing is stymied by permit problems
– Water Board continues to be a problem as they don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the County government

Next Steps

Based on the positive feedback from the affordable housing learning forum participants, Community Coalition Kaua’i is currently under discussion with our core team about devoting at least the remainder of this year to plunging more deeply into understanding and responding to the affordable housing crisis. We have already assembled a concept paper and will be sharing it shortly, asking for input from all of you.

Questions From the Audience

The Q&A session between the audience and the panelists was left until the end of the meeting, and as is often the case, we didn’t have time to entertain all of the questions.

We took the questions submitted on paper, collated them and provided them to our panelists to respond to after the learning forum. Below you will see the questions followed by the answers from our panelists in green. We took the
Questions From the Audience for the Panelists

Answers from JoAnn Yukimura and Stephen Spears in green

1 QUESTION. Cities and counties – from Honolulu to Portland to Santa Cruz, CA – have lifted many
of the restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

Council members Evslin and Chock recently presented the first hearings on six bills to make the building of
Accessory Rental Units (ARUs) more desirable for homeowners to build. Do you think the County is being aggressive enough at promoting this as one of the solutions to affordable housing? If not, how far do you think the County should go in easing restrictions and to what zoning categories do you think the building of ARUs should
apply?

JY ANSWER:
Authorizing ARUs and ADUs as means to create affordable housing is tricky business and needs to be done very carefully. Keep in mind that the effect of a blanket authorization of ADU’s or ARUs in any town or district is to double entitlements overnight.

Also keep in mind that to remove or take away entitlements is nearly impossible, so if a community finds that ARUs or ADUs are not working to provide affordable housing, it will be difficult to retract the entitlements. In a community that wants to protect against uncontrolled growth, doubling entitlements is an action that
needs to be approached very cautiously.

I would prefer allowing ARUs (Additional Rental Units) over ADU’s (Additional Dwelling Units) because ADUs can be created and sold as units separate from the primary dwelling unit. In contrast, under the County’s current ARU law, this separation is prohibited.

Fragmentation of interest tends to raise the per unit price (compare the total value of an apartment building under one ownership vs the total value of the same building where the apartments have been turned into condos). Also, when the ADU is in a single-family subdivision, allowing the ADU to be legally separated from the primary unit can create many difficult conflicts between two separate owners.

Unless one is a firm believer in supply side economics, which asserts that one must simply encourage more supply to lower price to an affordable level, one of the limitations of the County’s ARU bill is that there is no requirement that the rents of an ARU be affordable.

It appears that several of the bills recently co-introduced by Councilmembers Evslin and Chock would give incentives to ARU owners to make them available at affordable rentals. However, exactly how those incentives would work and how long the affordability will be required is not clear.

One of the Evslin-Chock bills is very troubling. Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, Bill 2745 seeks to repeal the restriction passed unanimously by the previous council which prohibited ARUs in the Rice Street special district where the Council authorized R-40 zoning. The previous Council prohibited ARUs in the R-40 districts to prevent an effective R-80 zoning, but Bill 2745 seems to propose removing that restriction.

This makes no sense because there isn’t even sufficient infrastructure for R-40 zoning. One of the recurring lessons from Kauaʻi’s past zoning decisions is to not give out more entitlements than we have infrastructure to support. Kapa’a traffic is a prime example of the harm to community that results from such poor land use decision-making.
I would prefer that we look at the mechanism of TDRs to increase density where we want it.

2. QUESTION: The concept of “adaptive re-use”, the re-purposing of vacant buildings and vacant lots for building affordable housing has taken hold in many other towns and cities. By looking at Rice Street alone, there seems to be many opportunities for re-purposing, both in terms of land and buildings. How would you suggest assembling a public private partnership to make this work – including the County, State and Federal government, along with private investors?

JY ANSWER:
Public-private partnerships are well at work on Rice Street. The County is providing its support with the TIGER grant (Transportation Initiatives Generating Economic Recovery), and with zoning that is increasing the density to R-40. There is major private reconstruction going on along Rice Street, at the historic “Kress” building, Maʻs Place and other sites. The other way the County could help majorly is by providing infrastructure in a timely fashion.

3. QUESTION In 2008, Kauai passed its first affordable housing ordinance, known as inclusionary zoning. It requires developers to construct approximately 30% of their project to affordable housing. In light of the Waipouli Courtyard’s displacement of more than 40 low-income families, and if we are really willing to make a commitment to inclusionary zoning that works, do you see us moving from 10 year to longer term sunset clauses?

JY ANSWER:
Absolutely. Given the substantial subsidy that must be provided by government to make a housing unit affordable for 80% of families on Kauaʻi (equal to or less than 80% AMI (Area Median Income)) and the time it takes from zoning to occupancy, the County needs to maximize its investment and move from the concept of sunset clauses to the concept of permanent affordability or affordability in perpetuity.

Amending our inclusionary zoning ordinance from requiring a 30% turnkey contribution to a 30% land and off-site infrastructure requirement solves the short-term affordabilityproblem while cutting the developerʻs contribution in half, truly a win-win proposition.

Once the land is dedicated to the County, permanent affordability is achieved through
4 different forms of affordable housing:

  • 1. affordable rentals owned by County andmanaged by a nonprofit
  • 2. 99-year leasehold condos
  • 3. limited equity cooperative housing
  • 4. community housing land trusts

The 2008 affordable housing inclusionary zoning ordinance (Ordinance 860) codified the inclusionary zoning practices that had been applied by the County or State to developments since 1980. Of the 2675 affordable housing units built between 1975 to 2019, 1186 or 44% of the total affordable housing built were through an inclusionary zoning process albeit not as formal as the process that emerged in Ordinance 860.

4. QUESTION: The Governor in his state-of-the-state address said that one way to build affordable housing inventory is to build for-sale condominiums on state land with 99-year leases. He said: “We are continuing our momentum in developing affordable rentals, thanks to improved financing tools and legislative funding that make building these projects feasible.

The leasehold condos could be a breakthrough in for-sale housing because it gives us a way to develop and keep the price of the units affordable. The buyer isn’t paying for the cost of the land, which developers say adds 20-25% to the cost of a home.” The state is one of the major land owners on Kauai, so how do we bring the state on as a partner in building affordable condos on Kauai, using this same model?

JY ANSWER:
It would be a limited approach to look at the State as a landowner. There may be some state properties that are feasible for affordable housing development, such as the state lands around Mahelona (as long as the long-term goals of the hospital are not jeopardized), but most state lands are not ideally located for affordable housing.

The more expansive approach would be to look at the State as a financing partner and to implement the concept of 99-year condo leases everywhere this concept could work–in county-initiated affordable housing developments or privately-initiated developments (e.g. land trusts or limited equity cooperatives or private corporations).

A good way to start would be to take Kauaʻi 99-year leasehold program for singlefamily homes (which was the inspiration for the Governorʻs 99-year condo leasehold proposal) and adjust it to apply to condos. Such a policy would have to address common area charges, which could easily become an obstacle to affordability.

Related to this would be governance of a condo project and how that would be set up. The
limited equity cooperative housing model–which is also an ownership model–might be
easier to implement, but that would have to be researched.

5. QUESTION: Similarly to the Governor’s condominium leasehold plan (stated above), we know
that the County has acquired 22 properties and converted them to leaseholds. Are there plans to continuously acquire land that has access to water, infrastructure and public transportation and build the affordable housing leasehold inventory in order to continue to meet current and future needs?

JY ANSWER
This is really a question for the Housing Agency and the policymakers of the County– i.e., the Mayor and Council. I believe the policy of 99-year single-family leaseholds will continue, but I donʻt believe there is any written policy in place. I tried to establish such a policy in 2018 when i introduced a bill establishing a long-term affordability
policy for all housing developed and subsidized by the County or by the power ofzoning. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass.

6. QUESTION:  As was discussed by the panel tonight, capital is one of the major challenges when it comes to building affordable housing. However, we have seen many other examples of counties building affordable housing trust funds through the use of sales tax, document recording fees, developer impact fees, real estate transfer taxes, property taxes and general funds. We all know that tax increases and fees are viewed as political suicide, yet there seems to be no other way for the County to build a long term commitment affordable housing. How do you suggest both our representatives and the public face this reality if we are going to make a commitment to continuously building our affordable housing inventory?

JY ANSWER:
Last year I proposed an amendment to the Kauaʻi County Charter which would have earmarked 3% of property taxes for ten years for an affordable housing development fund. That Charter earmark, had it been approved by the voters of Kauaʻi, would have generated about $4 million per year or $40 million over a ten year period. Most importantly, it would not have resulted in a tax increase for long-term residents of Kauaʻi because money could have come from the tax rate increases passed last year on expensive residential investment properties (residential properties valued at over $2,000,000 that are not owner-occupied or rented long term) and vacation rentals.

This is about as painless as you could get. Similar charter amendment earmarks for affordable housing were approved by voters of the City and County of Honolulu and Maui County several years ago. On Kauaʻi, a majority of the County Council voted against putting the measure on the ballot, thereby denying Kauaʻi voters the chance to
vote on the matter. This suggests that one of the biggest obstacles to solving the affordable housing crisis may be the politicians.

7. QUESTION: In the General Plan it is stated that in regards to declining housing affordability: “The
lack of housing supply has been due in part to the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. For almost 10 years, large scale private development of housing has been non-existent.” Having said that, on average, Kauai has an inventory of between 800- 900 houses on the market. And, at the same time, the GP states that 45% of the buyers
between 2008-2015 were from out of state. So there seems to be disconnect about the driver of the problem.

This is not an inventory problem, but rather a real estate use problem. What do you think of implementing a property vacancy tax like Vancouver, BC whereby properties deemed empty will be subject to a tax of 1% of the properties assessed value. Net revenues from this “Empty Homes Tax” will be reinvested into
affordable housing initiatives.

JY ANSWER:
This question seems to assume that out-of-state buyers are the main cause of vacant properties. Iʻm not sure that is true. Statistics recently provided to me by the Planning Department indicate that 25% of the 30,000 housing units on Kauaʻi are vacant. This tells us that there is a vacancy problem, but I am not sure we understand the cause. On the street that I live on, there are two vacant homes and one seasonal home–all are owned by residents who were born and raised on Kauaʻi, but no longer live here as full-time residents. These owners keep their homes here as a place to in which to stay when they or their friends come to visit. The homes are not used as vacation rentals in any sense of the word. 

I think a property vacancy tax like Vancouver, BCʻs would be worth considering. When property taxes are relatively low, there is no incentive to rent the home out. It seems an incentive would be in order.

Twenty-five percent of 30,000 is a substantial figure, 7500 to be exact. That is ballpark to the number of affordable housing units the General Plan will be needed by 2035 (80% of 9000 units = 7200).

8. QUESTION: The State has a $30 million ‘Ohana Zones fund to move people from homelessness
into permanent, supportive housing through a partnership between city, state and
federal agencies and service providers. How is or could Kauai benefit from the ‘Ohana
Zones fund?

JY ANSWER:
A group of citizens and government officials dedicated to developing a “Housing First” model on Kauaʻi should consult with Duane Kurisu, founder of Hauʻiki Village, and develop a plan and a campaign to bring the community together to create a model housing project with 24/7 wrap-around services. We should study the requirements of ʻOhana Zones fund” and apply for the money and just do it!

9. QUESTION:  “Housing First” is a nationally recognized best practice proven to be the most effective and efficient approach to helping people experiencing chronic homelessness. Housing First provides permanent and supportive housing, along with needed services such as assistance with mental illness, substance abuse and job training and placement.

Honolulu, in it’s first year of commitment to Hale ‘O Malama, their Housing First program, placed 173 people who were experiencing chronic homelessness in 115 households, including 20 families and 35 children. After committing to Housing First, Portland reported a decline by 70% of chronically homeless people sleeping outside, Denver a 36% reduction, and Portland, ME 49%. The data indicate a huge reduction in both chronic homelessness and funds spent on homelessness services. Where is Kauai on it’s thinking about the value of a “housing First” model? It is mentioned in the General Plan, but is there any action on this?

JY ANSWER:
The group of service providers and government officials called the “Continuum of Care” group has been educating itself about the Best Practice of “Housing First” and has been implementing it in small ways among themselves on Kauaʻi. However, there has been no significant leadership on the part of the County or the lead agency for
homelessness, Kauai Economic Opportunity (KEO).

What is needed to implement the concept of “Housing Firstʻ is a well-organized, community-based project that would build permanent housing, such as “Hauʻiki Village” on Sand Island, and coordinate the 24/7 wraparound services (including child care, job training, mental health support, etc.) that has made “Housing First” so successful.

10. QUESTION: According to Kauai’s Land Use Buildout Analysis (2015), over 80% of residential development is single family construction that occurs on Agriculture, Open, and R-1 through R-4 zoned land. This has certainly done nothing but exacerbate Kauai’s lowdensity development paradigm, as well as contributed to the high cost of new homes being built.

We are all familiar with other models of increasing density and lower cost building types in that reduce the overall cost of housing – what is it going to take to shift our thinking away from unaffordable, sprawl-based development models to high density affordable housing?

JY ANSWER:
1. We need to develop and enforce Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB) for every town on the island based on sound planning principles.
2. We need to aggressively provide infrastructure within those boundaries, which will provide a huge incentive to developers to develop within those boundaries, and that infrastructure should not be allowed to extend beyond the UGB.
3. The County needs to follow its own rules and policies; if it does, it will not place large number of units on prime agricultural land outside of the main areas slated for growth in a town where houses exceed jobs

11. QUESTION: The lack of housing for farm workers is a major impediment to finding and maintaining the work force needed to support food security on Kauai. Even though the Farm Worker Housing Bill was passed in 2010 that allows farm operators to build small housing units on ag lands, but still we don’t see much progress in this area. How do you think the existing process to obtain Farm Worker Housing Permits could be improved, along with removing some of the other barriers to participation?

12. QUESTION: DHHL owns 20,565 acres on Kauai. The DHHL Kauai Island Plan designates three priority tracts for development: Wailua, Hanapepe and Anahola, which could collectively accommodate 2,351 residential lots. As of 2014, there were a total 1,621 applicants on the Kauai wait list. The major obstacles to development of DHHL lands
(according to the 2008 DHHL lessee Survey) are aging infrastructure, construction costs, as well as the need to consult with DHHL regarding projected water needs and other rights to water under the public trust. Why has it not been a priority to support DHHL in their mission to provide housing to their beneficiaries? Since the land has
already been put aside, and the rights to water are established under the Hawaii State Constitution, it seems some of the major obstacles to building affordable housing have been taken out of the mix.

13. QUESTION: The proportion of Kauai residents over 65 years of age is projected to rise by 10% in 2010 to 30% in 2035, doubling the number of older adults on Kauai. One of the State’s goals for “Aging in Place” is best served by having senior housing near social and medical services, shopping and other basic services. How do you see us increasing the supply of housing that is affordable and accessible to services in order to allow seniors to “age in place”?

JY ANSWER:
Kanikoʻo at Rice Camp, Hale Kūpuna in Kalaheo and the Līhuʻe Theater Housing are three elderly housing projects that are serving the communityʻs ever growing need for senior housing. It thrills me no end to see local people I know living in those units because seeing them affirms that we are doing the right thing. We need to learn how
those projects came about, and we need to design a policy and a process to foster more senior units.

14. QUESTION: The increase in the number of transient vacation rentals (TVRs) into residential areas that are outside of the designated visitor designation areas has had an impact both on the affordable housing inventory and the social make-up of our communities. Despite the cap placed on VCRs in 2008, illegal TVRs are flourishing. How do you see the County aggressively enforcing the illegal TVRs, and supporting the attrition of nonconforming TVRs in order to rebuild our low to moderate income rentals?

15. QUESTION: A questionnaire from Rep. James Tokioka came to my home asking if I would consider taller height limits to create affordable housing. What is your feeling about height limits and do we want to become Oahu?

JY ANSWER:
I agree that it is time to review our present height limits, but I shudder to think that it will be done under a fabricated pressure related to affordable housing. I have not seen a study showing that the height limit is the cause of our affordable housing crisis nor that increasing the height limit will solve the affordable housing crisis.

16.  QUESTION: Have you given any consideration to using unused shopping center space i.e. Kukui Grove to build housing? (directed at Kanani)

JY ANSWER:
I believe putting housing in our struggling shopping centers will be a “win-win-win.” A “winʻ for the family needing affordable housing, a “win” for the developer/shopping center and a “win” for the community. I mentioned the idea at the recent Housing Summit and have reached out to shopping center owners with the suggestion.

17.  QUESTION: We need to look at ways to reduce construction costs from $450K/unit if housing
will ever be affordable. There are classes in zoning ordinance which altered could immediately reduce construction costs by 25%, particularly:
▪ Allowing houses to use on-site water (streams, lakes, catchment) with high-tech household water filters ($30K development costs)
▪ Removing the requirements for all plans to be produced by an architect (who
charge 10% of total project costs. Allow re-use of previously approved plans and only require update to site plan.
Is any of this under consideration or on the radar?

18. QUESTION: Kauai’s inclusionary zoning ordinance requires developers to construct approximately 30% of their project as affordable housing. In light of Waipouli Courtyard’s displacement of more than 40 families, and if were really trying to make a commitment to inclusionary zoning THAT WORKS, do you see us moving form 10-
year to longer term sunset clauses?

See JY ANSWER under Question #3

19. QUESTION: What is the status of allowing cooking facilities in 500 ft. guest houses?

20. QUESTION: Why not manufactured housing @ $40K-$100k per unit.

Answered by Stephen Spears, Habitat for Humanity

This is a good idea on many levels and but a lot to consider.
A company from the mainland tried this and was based on Oahu., about 2008 to 2010 time frame.
The obstruction:
1. Large push back from unions
2. From County permitting, etc.
( one example of an issue was, I was told that the power company would not get power connected to their building on Oahu for a very long time, never did as far as I know, resistance from change, loss of jobs, etc.)
They ended up purchasing a very large generation station of their owner powered by gas to power their factory , so they could get started but at a very large cost.

Ending result was they did get the permitting approved, built some homes and did ship in a few homes to Kauai and installed on foundations, and as far as I know did get the homes completed and approved, But the company did finally did give it up and leave the islands.

Kauai Habitats experience with this:
I did look at the homes, made a factory visit, etc. and looked at the options. Look at cost estimates with the homes, etc. But from a budget prospective Kauai Habitat found that the homes that we build were
cheaper than the manufactured homes. We already build the frame of the homes in a warehouse, add a lot of volunteer ( free) labor and have built many of the efficiency into our process that were similar to

Manufactured homes.
For example to build a 2,3 and 4 br home it is costing the family about $113k,120k, 127k that is foundation, materials, labor, overhead, etc. Completed.

So the $40k to 100k mentioned above is for the unit, from my experience is not turnkey ready to go. I am guessing it is without foundation, shipping, setting home on foundation, etc. the price quoted may also not be a home that is built to hurricane standard, other codes, like all treated lumber that is required in Hawaii I am assuming that the actual price on Kauai is not really 40k ( for a really small home) to 100k.

We ran the numbers and our building methods, etc. proved to be less expense to complete a home then the manufactured homes.

The above was comparing to an Oahu built home, shipped to Kauai.

If you consider mainland manufactured homes, the price maybe less but the shipping here, damage on the way, etc. I would guess the saving from lower labor, and other cost, etc. would probably be lost in the extra shipping cost. But just guessing.

If you compare Manufactured home to a regular contractor build home, they would probably be cheaper. But with the amount of resistance that is encountered, especially if you were shipping from the mainland ( homes not built in Hawaii), there would be may issues to be overcome. This seems like it would take a lot of money and time and effort to overcome this dynamic.

21. QUESTION:  Isn’t a big problem with inclusionary zoning that we must them have a
development (in luxury hotels/condos, etc.) for affordable housing to be built?

JY ANSWER
It is a problem only if inclusionary zoning is thought to be the only way to provide
affordable housing. It is not a problem if inclusionary zoning is seen as one of several tools in a toolbox for
building affordable housing and a way for land developers to do their fair share in
helping to solve the problem.

I believe affordable housing is everyoneʻs kuleana, and everyone needs to do their fair share to enable affordable housing.

For most people, their kuleana is fulfilled by paying taxes that are used to provide affordable housing. Some of those people go further by owning a rental unit and renting it at affordable rates, working through their churches or nonprofit groups or by rendering individual acts of kindness. Most of the foregoing contributions do not provide affordable housing per se, but all the contributions put together do enable affordable housing.

For land developers who are asking for the privilege to develop their lands (itʻs a privilege, not a right, by virtue of having to get zoning and permits), zoning theoretically should be granted only if there will be a community benefit to the rezoning or granting of permits.

When the market fails to provide over 50% of housing need on Kauaʻi and itself contributes to a need for housing, it is rational for government to ask market developers to contribute a fair and reasonable amount of affordable housing. This is especially true of luxury developments which increase the price of land and housing and utilize limited resources provided by the land and the community: water, road space, electricity, etc.

The inclusionary zoning framework that my Affordable Housing Advisory Group was zooming in on after considerable research and debate would have cut the existing 30% turnkey requirement in half by requiring not turnkey housing, but the land and infrastructure to support the number of units owed under the 30% rule. The County, as fee owner, would then be responsible for onsite construction and management of
the units.

This framework also solved the long-term affordability dilemma. By giving the County ownership of the land, the units would remain affordable in perpetuity as long as the County remained faithful to its public trust responsibilities.

The worst thing that could happen would be for the County to delay amending its inclusionary ordinance to make it more workable for both the county and the developer. Unworkability hurts everyone–not the least to mention the Countyʻs goal of providing sufficient affordable housing for its people.

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