Mayor Caldwell talks affordable housing, State of The City
"If we don't change the course that we've been on for a long period of time this island becomes a defacto-gated community, only for the exclusive few."
HONOLULU - Emphasizing the need for more affordable housing, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell delivered his fifth State of the City Address.
"If we don't change the course that we've been on for a long period of time this island becomes a de facto gated community, only for the exclusive few," Caldwell said.
The mayor laid out his new affordable housing strategy before an audience at Honolulu Hale, Thursday evening.
"During the next four years this administration is going to focus 'laser-like' on getting more affordable housing built," Caldwell said.
According the city, Honolulu right now needs 24,000 affordable housing units.
Currently, the marketplace only produces about 2,000 to 3,000 units, and say most aren't affordable.
"We need to facilitate and stimulate 800 units of housing that's affordable every year, and this administration is committing to do that for the next four years," Caldwell said in his address.
The mayor's plan proposes that instead of transit-oriented development zones having 30 percent affordable housing units, there should be 20 percent if it's for sale, and 15 percent if it's for rent.
That means developers would need to provide more affordable units to lower-income individuals and families.
"As the rail comes through it certainly is going to be a catalyst for re-doing the urban core," City managing director, Roy Amemiya said.
Caldwell also mentioned the importance of finishing all 20 miles of the rail, stating transit-oriented development zones can't exist without the rail.
In addition, the mayor says he wants all affordable units, either for sale or rent, to remain at reasonable price for the next 30-years, rather than the 10-year length that was originally required.
In exchange for regulation changes, Caldwell plan offers developers incentives and waives the following: sewer hookup fees, park dedication fees, city application and permit fees, real property tax increases during construction (if project includes affordable units).
The plan outlines eight parcels that the mayor says the city is ready to lease to private-sector partners, or developers in order build more affordable housing.
Those parcels include: Kapolei Parkway, Pearlridge Transit Station, Ala Moana Transit Station, Leeward Pearl Harbor (below the rail operations center), West Loch, Aeia Sugar Mill, Kalaheo, Aala Park, Alii Place.
Governor David Ige was among others in the audience listening to State of the City address.
He says the state and the city have similar plans to tackle the issue.
"Affordable housing is part of the challenge and complexity of beating the homeless challenge, so the state is committed." Gov. Ige said.
The mayor is expected to present the city's Affordable Housing Strategy to the council next month.