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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Green Signs Six Housing Bills Into Law
By News Release @ 3:04 AM :: 1150 Views :: Development, Cost of Living

Legislators and community representatives who were key to the passage of SB3202 and SB2090, including Grassroot's Ted Kefalas, fourth from left, watched on Tuesday as Hawaii Gov. Josh Green signed those and other housing-related bills into law.

Governor signs housing bills strongly supported by Grassroot

from Grassroot Institute

It was a victory for Hawaii on Tuesday when Gov. Josh Green approved several laws that will facilitate more homebuilding

Tuesday marked the end of a long and arduous effort by many parties, including the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, to see enacted into law two housing bills that are almost guaranteed to result in more homes for desperate Hawaii residents.

In a special ceremony, Gov. Josh Green signed six separate housing measures aimed at improving the conditions for homebuilding — the most important of which were, from Grassroot's perspective,SB3202 and SB2090.

The former requires the counties to adopt or amend ordinances by Dec. 31, 2026, to allow for at least two accessory dwelling units on all qualified residentially zoned lots. The latter makes it easier for homebuilders to convert underutilized office and commercial buildings into residences.

In the national publication The Center Square, reporter Merrilee Gasser noted that Grassroot had called SB3202 "one of the most critical housing bills of the 2024 session."

Grassroot Director of Strategic Campaigns Ted Kefalas was among those who attended the signing ceremony, along with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz; the two key sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Luke Evslin and Sen. Stanley Chang; Housing Hawai‘i's Future Executive Director Sterling Higa; and others who helped these bills become law.

"It’s a pretty exceptional day when we can move the needle on unlocking more housing across the state," the governor said.

Schatz, chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, was especially enthusiastic about the signing.

“Hawaii’s housing shortage took decades to build up because regulation is a one-way ratchet," he said, "so it’s not something that can be fixed in an instant. But for the first time in a while, I’m hopeful not just because of these bills, but because there is now a generation of lawmakers and other leaders that see this problem clearly and have the guts to do something about it.”

Also enthusiastic was Grassroot President Keli‘i Akina, who said during an interview with reporter Bryce Moore of KHON 2: "We’re going to start seeing a huge rush to get permits, and the only thing we’re going to need to do is upgrade our ability to issue those permits.”

In a separate interview with Moore, Akina said that the enactment of SB2090, also known as the "adaptive reuse" bill, is "a huge breakthrough. It allows old buildings to be refurbished … and now [be] used for housing. Over 20% of Downtown office space is now vacant and that number is growing.”

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State officials hope new laws will ease Hawaii's housing affordability crisis

by Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square, May 29, 2024

(The Center Square) - Gov. Josh Green said he hopes six new housing laws will make housing more affordable in the state.

One of the more controversial bills passed by the legislature and signed by Green is Senate Bill 3202. It requires counties to allow at least two accessory dwelling units on all residentially zoned lots. Counties must adopt or amend ordinances by Dec. 31, 2026 to adjust for this, according to the bill.

In a letter of support for SB 3202, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii called it one of the most critical housing bills of the 2024 session.

“The aim of this bill is to boost the construction of smaller, more affordable “starter homes” across the state, thereby incentivizing homebuilders to build smaller houses and bring down the cost of housing statewide,” Ted Kefalas, Director of Strategic Campaigns for Grassroot Institute of Hawaii said. “Every element of this bill reflects the growing consensus among housing experts that zoning reform is essential to increasing housing supply.”

House Bill 2090, approved unanimously by the Legislature, is meant to help increase housing inventory by repurposing underutilized commercial spaces and office buildings, according to the governor’s office.

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii also endorsed the bill, saying it could expedite development projects and provide major pro-housing zoning reform.

House Bill 1760 addresses affordable housing. It gives the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation and counties authorization to do a bond volume cap recycling program and use prior years’ tax-exempt private activity bond volume, the governor’s office said.

House Bill 1925 establishes and funds the Hawaii State Planning Act Phase II Task Force to continue oversight of long-range development and housing issues.

“The State (and rest of world) are facing numerous complex, interlocking challenges that are increasing in speed and scale,” wrote President and Executive Director of Holomua Collaborative Josh Wisch in a letter supporting the measure. “These challenges require solutions and approaches that are cross-sector and collaborative. This proposal aims to use the opportunity to update and modernize the State Planning Act (HRS 226) to address these complex challenges."

Green also signed Senate Bill 2066, which gives housing projects an alternative path for seeking exemptions for specific state laws and expedites the regulatory process, according to Green’s office.

Senate Bill 2133 authorizes the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to issue bonds for housing project infrastructure, according to Green's office.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, praised the new laws.

“We are finally doing something meaningful to make it easier for families, workers, and local people to live in Hawai‘i and afford a place to call their own,” Schatz said. “Hawaii’s housing shortage took decades to build up because regulation is a one-way ratchet, so it’s not something that can be fixed in an instant. But for the first time in a while, I’m hopeful not just because of these bills, but because there is now a generation of lawmakers and other leaders that see this problem clearly and have the guts to do something about it.”

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GOVERNOR GREEN SIGNS BILLS TO UNLOCK HOUSING ACROSS THE STATE

News Release from Office of the Governor, May 28, 2024

HONOLULU — Governor Josh Green, M.D., today highlighted the achievements of the 2024 legislative session to unlock more affordable housing across the state. In a ceremony at the Capitol, Governor Green underscored the collaborative efforts behind several significant bills aimed at addressing the state’s housing crisis. 

“Housing has been and continues to be a top priority for my administration. This afternoon, I signed several bills that are aimed at tackling the severe housing shortage in our state,” said Governor Green. “It’s a pretty exceptional day when we can move the needle on unlocking more housing across the state through permitting reform and by increasing financing for more affordable projects.” 

The Governor emphasized the importance of community involvement in shaping these legislative measures. “These bills represent the efforts of not only policymakers, departments, agencies, and stakeholders, but very importantly, the input of the community and so many who came out to testify on housing legislation.” 

 “We are finally doing something meaningful to make it easier for families, workers, and local people to live in Hawai‘i and afford a place to call their own,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, Chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. “Hawai‘i’s housing shortage took decades to build up because regulation is a one-way ratchet, so it’s not something that can be fixed in an instant. But for the first time in a while, I’m hopeful not just because of these bills, but because there is now a generation of lawmakers and other leaders that see this problem clearly and have the guts to do something about it.” 

Governor Green signed bills designed to expand the affordable housing inventory and improve the governance of rental laws under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Code. In the afternoon, he highlighted six critical housing bills: 

Senate Bill 3202: Requires counties to adopt or amend ordinances by December 31, 2026, to allow for at least two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on all residentially zoned lots. The bill also prohibits private covenants from including certain restrictions, supporting the efficient use of limited residential lands and making housing more attainable for residents. 

House Bill 1760: Enables the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation and counties to implement a bond volume cap recycling program, utilizing prior years’ tax-exempt private activity bond volume, while preserving the current volume cap to support affordable housing development. 

House Bill 1925: Establishes and funds the Hawai‘i State Planning Act Phase II Task Force, continuing the work of the previous task force to guide long-range state development and housing policy solutions. 

House Bill 2090: Directs counties to allow adaptive reuse of existing commercial buildings through their ordinances, increasing housing inventory by repurposing underutilized commercial spaces and office buildings. 

Senate Bill 2066: Provides an alternative pathway for housing projects to seek exemptions from certain state laws and rules, expediting the regulatory process to increase affordable housing units. 

Senate Bill 2133: Authorizes the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation to issue bonds for housing project infrastructure, financing the development of regional state infrastructure projects, particularly in transit-oriented development areas. 

“These bills reflect the ongoing work to expand housing options for Hawaiʻi’s local people,” said Governor Green. “Mahalo to our residents and communities that continue to share their perspectives, take part in the legislative process, and contribute to ongoing policy discussions to come up with innovative and sound solutions to address our dire housing shortage.” 

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COVERAGE:

KHON: Solving Hawaii’s housing crisis by building more units | KHON2

KITV: Thousands of housing units could be built under new laws to boost affordable housing

KITV: Hawaii governor signs housing legislation aimed at helping local residents stay in islands

HNN: In bid to address years-old housing crunch, new laws will force counties to ease density, zoning rules

SA: New laws aim to ‘turn tide’ on housing crisis 

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