Some Ways To Stop The Exodus To The Mainland
by Panos Prevedouros PhD, June 3, 2019
Quoted in an article on an important subject covered by Dan De Gracia, Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the UH Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, says four dimensions are vital to retaining young people in Hawaii:
- satisfying, well paying jobs;
- quality of infrastructure and built environment;
- housing availability and price; and
- the cost of living.
I do have a few specific suggestions for the four items I mentioned to Dan, as follows:
Satisfying, well paying jobs...
There is plenty good news here. Not only we have the lowest unemployment in the nation, but by 2020 the baby boomer retirement will become stronger. Engineers, business majors and other professionals will fare very well in job selection and remuneration.
Quality of infrastructure and built environment...
This will remain a weakness as the state and city grapple with human centered issues (homeless and elder care), bad choices (rail and misguided energy endeavors) and generous promises (civil service employee retirement and health care) which leave very little left over for infrastructure improvements. Parenthetically, this is why I am no longer interested in running for executive office in Hawaii. My ability to deliver on these fundamental quality of life assets of society will be useless.
Housing availability and price...
Leadership is needed to develop the remainder a Kakaako not as real estate safety deposit boxes for foreigners but as vibrant community for young (under 35) and old (over 65) with a fifty year P3, public private partnership, to develop reasonably priced rentals for unmarried young adults and for seniors in apartments with 1 and 2 bedrooms priced at, say, $1,200 and $1,600, respectively, with only 0.5 parking stall per apartment rented at $100 per month, plus incentives for transit and bicycle use. Three-four phases of about 500 units each will make a huge impact, and the amount of subsidy will be modest. The P3 is necessary to ensure quick, high quality development of the units and continuous maintenance for the life of the 50 year agreement; we do not want this done as a public housing project but as a long term for profit development with some taxpayer subsidy.
Cost of living...
The subsidized apartments described in (3) above, in combination with adoption of non motorized transportation for short trips and car-sharing for longer ones, will allow the young to partly defeat Hawaii's high cost of living for a decade or more. Combined with a good income from the start, the young will be able to save enough to afford a house or large unit for developing a family and making Hawaii their forever home.
However, our politicians pay no attention and clearly have no sympathy for young adults making, say, $50,000 a year or more, who are contemplating the choice to stay in Hawaii, and barely make it, or leave Hawaii for better opportunities. They are busy with their liberal kuleana: Taxation, land control, environmental control, more control and regulation, the homeless, the poor, the "living wage" and the like. This tells us a lot about priorities and the future of Hawaii... For decades now, the young ones have heard this message loud and clear.