Molina calls for county-backed affordable rentals

The Maui News

Council Member Mike Molina last week issued a “call to action” to build affordable rental housing on county land by waiving certain permitting fees and property taxes.

“We know the hurdles to building affordable housing are land costs, infrastructure, permit fees, processing permits and required studies,” said Molina, whose residency district includes Makawao, Haiku and Paia. “We don’t need to hear this again; the county has the ability to make these hurdles less burdensome.”

The proposal, transmitted to Mayor Michael Victorino and Lori Tsuhako, director of Housing and Human Concerns on June 10, calls for the county to issue requests for proposals to develop rental housing. In the RFP, the county would identify county-owned land that is appropriate for building and seek bids from developers. The administration and council would be involved in awarding the bid.

The winning bidder would receive the land through ownership or extended land lease with a minimal fee; a grant of $5 million to $20 million to assist with design, infrastructure and construction; the waiving of most or all permit fees and real property taxes for the entire lease or a timeline agreed upon by the parties; and the expediting of permit processing.

“All these resources can be leveraged by the county to create a partnership for the development of affordable housing,” Molina said. “The resources are there, it’s time to use them. We can continue to talk or start building, I say let’s start building.”