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Board OKs Malaekahana development


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POSTED: Sunday, August 02, 2009

Laie resident Uilani Pualoa said she's for affordable housing but is skeptical about a proposed 1,200-home development on pastureland at Malaekahana supported by Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

“;What about us, those born and raised here?”; Pualoa asked a crowd of more than 300 people during Thursday's Koolauloa Neighborhood Board meeting in Laie.

Along a two-lane coastal highway on Windward Oahu, many residents are living in houses with more than one family and the prices of homes ranging from $600,000 to $800,000 are out of their reach.

Residents say they're frustrated because dwellings along the shoreline have become second homes owned by the wealthy, narrowing the inventory of housing.

Hawaii Reserves Inc., which manages nearly 7,000 acres for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has said the development is mainly intended to provide “;affordable”; housing for university faculty, students and residents.

The board voted Thursday to support the development as well as a proposed 228-room hotel near the Church's Polynesian Cultural Center.

The vote was 7-4, with five who voted to approve the recommendation declaring they worked or had worked for the university, Hawaii Reserves or the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Hawaii Reserves plans to ask a city Planning Advisory Committee on Wednesday to include the proposed development in its review of the community plan.

The advisory meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center in Punaluu, at 53-516 Kamehameha Highway.

Several residents said many questions remain unanswered, including the prices of the proposed houses.

Some residents living in adjoining communities said the proposed development would worsen traffic, and a few native Hawaiians raised questions about the availability of water for taro farming and public access to the ocean.

The proposals are part of a master plan by the university to expand its enrollment to 4,000 students from 2,400 in the next 20 years.

An area previously designated for housing mauka of the university would be shifted to the Malaekahana site, with 300 of the 1,200 homes for faculty and students.

University President Steven Wheelwright said the current housing for the students and faculty, mostly built in the 1950s and 1960s, will have to be replaced in the next 10 years.

Hawaii Reserves President Eric Beaver said his office plans to adjust some of the housing prices to the income ranges of residents in the Koolauloa area to enable them to purchase homes.

“;We'll be looking at that range to see how we can make it affordable,”; he said.

Pualoa said Hawaii Reserves should look at allowing the development of self-help housing at Malaekahana, to allow people to own their homes if they build it.

“;Other than that, it will not exist,”; she said.