Kaua`i County Council: Affordable Housing Initiative Back On The Table

There is good news, bad news, and more good news.

The good news is that Kaua`i Councilmember Luke Evslin and Council Vice-Chair Mason Chock are giving it another go. Undeterred by being shut down in a previous 4-3 Council vote, they have re-configured and resubmitted a two-part proposal to generate much-needed dedicated funding for affordable housing.

This is actually how it’s supposed to work. They listened to the concerns of their colleagues, adapted the proposal to alleviate those concerns, and are putting it once more on the table – hopefully, this time achieving unanimous support from all 7 Councilmembers.

The proposal is in two parts, with each part standing on its own – yet related in concept and implementation.

There is Resolution No. 2022-22, and Bill No. 2872.

Resolution 2022-22 proposes a Charter Amendment requiring a minimum of 2% of real property tax revenues be dedicated for affordable housing. If the Resolution is passed by the Council a question will be placed on the ballot stating, “Shall two percent (2%) of real property tax revenues be earmarked for the purpose of affordable housing?”

The decision will then be left up to Kaua`i voters on November 8.

Our friends and neighbors are getting priced out of their rentals with literally nowhere to go. Our homeless shelters are full and every affordable public housing project has a waiting list.

The dedicated funding source being proposed will allow the County to invest in much-needed infrastructure improvements (sewer and water). At the moment, if an affordable housing developer seeks to partner with the County on a project, the answer is “we need to wait and see if we can find the funds”. With a dedicated fund, the County Housing Agency can proactively seek out partnerships and opportunities.

Voters in Maui County have approved a 3% fund similarly dedicated toward affordable housing. Voters in Honolulu will be considering a proposal in November to increase their existing fund from .5% to 1%.

Why wouldn’t the Kaua`i County Council approve letting Kauai voters choose to have this same option at 2%?

Bill 2872 is related but independent. When/if the Charter Amendment passes, Bill 2872 can be used as a funding mechanism to generate the 2% that is needed for affordable housing. If for some reason the Charter Amendment does not pass Bill 2872 can still be used as a funding mechanism to generate funds for affordable housing and/or other purposes.

It’s important to note that Bill 2872 does not increase taxes. It simply creates a “3 tiered” system to allow the Council should they choose to do so in the future, to adjust the tax rate of properties that are not owner-occupied and/or not rented long-term.

Basic Translation: Bill 2872 if passed would allow the County to charge vacant investor-owned homes valued at $3 million, $20 million or more, a higher rate than a home with a similar use valued at $1 million or less.

The actual proposed tiers:

(A) Tier 1: up to one million dollars;
(B) Tier 2: in excess of one million dollars up to three million dollars;
(C) Tier 3: in excess of three million dollars.

Makes perfect sense. Bill 2872 does not increase taxes but only increases the options and flexibility available to the County when evaluating future tax decisions.

But yes, there is some bad news.

The bad news is that both of these measures are scheduled for 8:30am on Wednesday, June 15 and so if you are/were going to submit testimony to counciltestimony@kauai.gov – you best hurry up!

The other good news is you can and should, email ALL Councilmembers even after this deadline has passed as there will be other hearings and other votes. Please share your thoughts and encourage their support of both Resolution 2022-22 and Bill 2872 – councilmembers@kauai.gov

Of course, if you are someone who owns a second or third home that you leave vacant or rent short-term to tourists on vacation, perhaps you might feel differently. You of course are also welcome to share your thoughts with the Council as well.

This is what democracy looks like.

To view the Council meeting or meeting archives, visit http://www.kauai.gov/webcastmeetings

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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