West Maui’s Makila Kai workforce housing and farm lots considered

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES

The Maui County Council’s Land Use Committee will consider an independent development application for the proposed Makila Kai affordable housing project on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

The project is proposed under Chapter 201H, Hawaii Revised Statutes, which provides developers of qualified affordable-housing projects the opportunity to seek exemptions from certain laws relating to planning, zoning, construction and development. A project requesting exemptions under this statute must include affordable housing units, either primarily or exclusively.

The committee, which I chair, will consider eight exemptions for the project, from driveway permit and certain inspection fees to change in zoning and community-plan amendment requirements.

 The council has heard and advocated many times about the dire need of affordable housing for our working families. One of the ways to keep the housing costs down is to increase our inventory of units.

The project calls for 25 residential workforce housing units for qualified individuals earning 80 to 140 percent of Maui’s median income, and 24 market-rate agricultural lots that are slightly less than 2 acres each. It is located on a 79.5-acre property, which is currently undeveloped and vacant in Launiupoko, mauka of Honoapiilani Highway and the Lahaina bypass.

In the application, Makila Kai noted the median sales price of a single-family home on Maui in 2016 was $636,750. In West Maui, the median sales price was $760,000 last year.

 West Maui’s population alone is expected to increase by approximately 27,000 by 2020. Where will all our families live?

 There have been several housing applications to address the housing demand such as Pulelehua, Kahoma Village, Kapalua Mauka, Puukolii Village and the Villages of Leialii on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ Honokowai property. But many of these projects face cumbersome permitting, legal and financial challenges, which have put them on hold.

I look forward to the committee’s discussion on Makila Kai’s application, as they have noted all 25 workforce homes are anticipated to be built in one phase and occupied by 2020.

The agricultural lots, sold at market rate, also provide an interesting aspect in this application. When combined with their planned 500-foot-wide greenbelt, neighborhood park and setback areas, about 50 percent of the project will be open space. This will help provide and foster a rural community character for the project.

Makila Kai is anticipated to be completely constructed by 2027, with a total price tag of approximately $35 million.

In the past, fast-track applications, connectivity and ease of access to surrounding developments were typical concerns discussed in committee. Encouraging residents to bike or walk, instead of costly vehicle infrastructure arrangements, was preferred, especially since Makila Kai’s location is near the ocean and Laniupoko Beach Park.

 I appreciate the developer’s efforts last year to reach out to the community to receive input about the proposed project. I encourage the public to share their manao with the Land Use Committee on Wednesday.

Email testimony to lu.committee@mauicounty.us, referencing LU-2.

The council’s deadline to act on the proposal is June 22.

Mahalo.

* Robert Carroll holds the County Council seat for the East Maui residency area. He is the chair of the Land Use Committee. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit MauiCounty.us for more information.

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