Grassroot recommends 'upzoning' to address need for homes on Maui
Other ideas presented to legislators in a Shelter Working Group were enacting a 'YIGBY' bill and allowing prefabricated housing
from Grassroot Institute, Nov 24, 2023
One of the best ways to help increase housing supply and lower home prices on Maui and throughout Hawaii would be to "upzone" more of the state's residential lands, according to Grassroot Director of Strategic Campaigns Ted Kefalas, in both written and oral comments submitted to a state House panel called the Shelter Working Group.
Headed by Reps. Troy Hashimoto, chair, and Luke Evslin, vice chair, the group is seeking ways to provide temporary housing for Lahaina residents displaced by the Aug. 8 fires.
Kefalas said upzoning means to increase housing density. He said studies have shown that increasing allowable housing densities lowers prices when pursued in a comprehensive manner.
He said currently, county zoning codes in every county except Honolulu place stringent requirements on the construction of multifamily housing in residential zones. Maui's zoning code does have zones where duplexes can be built, but those comprise just a handful of parcels and subdivisions on the island.
Kefalas also recommended allowing "by right" approvals, adjusting parking minimums, and other zoning and permitting reforms that would help Hawaii’s counties boost their supply of housing.
In addition, he agreed with a proposal by the Shelter Working Group to create emergency standards for prefabricated housing — but with an eye toward "establishing permanent statewide rules for prefabricated housing that would expand its availability."
He also recommended adoption of a "Yes in God's Backyard" bill, which would allow churches, hospitals, schools and other charitable and community organizations to build housing on their own lands without excessive discretionary hearings that could stall or sink these much-needed projects.
To read Kefalas' entire testimony, go here. To see his oral testimony, go here. Kefalas' comments also were mentioned in an article published Monday by Hawaii Public Radio reporter Ku‘uwehi Hiraishi, which you can read here.