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Re-zoning land around Aiea-Pearl City transit stops could lead to more affordable housing

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PEARL CITY, Hawaii -

Dozens filled the cafeteria as Pearl Ridge Elementary School for Wednesday night's community meeting to learn about changes in the Aiea-Pearl City Neighborhood Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan Station area. 

"It's a very exciting time for the Aiea Pearl City community," said Honolulu Councilman Brandon Elefante, who represents the area. 

The City and County of Honolulu hopes to establish special districts around the Leeward Community College, Pearl Highlands, and Pearlridge transit stations that allow for mixed-use zoning. 

"Where we used to be able to just put in stores or put in apartments, we will now be able to have kind of like stores on the ground level, condos or apartments above offices kind of mix everything up," said Renee Espiau, Lead TOD Planner with the City and County of Honolulu.  

Sen. Breene Harimoto (D- District 16) said this change can help Oahu's housing crisis. 

"It allows us to take the opportunity to to redevelop properties to to have more affordable housing in mixed use which I think is the wave of the future," said Sen. Harimoto.

Sen. Harimoto said what we will see in Pearl City-Aiea won't be what we see happening in Kaka'ako.

"The vision is quite different, in that it will be mixed use with open spaces as you probably heard agricultural use as well," he explained.  

With re-zoning comes some concerns about property taxes for residents.

"There could be some property tax implications because the commercial rate is a little bit higher," said Espiau. 

Espiau said despite concerns the city hopes to ease the tax burden for families.

"We're going to work with them and make sure that they are only taxed for residential uses if that's all they plan for their properties," said Espiau.  

The city will also give the public a chance to give more feedback as the plans move forward. 

"Tonight is just the first step of many more meetings to come in the future," said Councilman Elefante.  
 
 

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