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Panel seeks change
Ideas to ease Hawaii's
Gov. Linda Lingle, who convened the task force last summer at the behest of the state Senate, said yesterday she would likely approve any legislation passed in response to the task force report.
But she stressed she would not approve new laws calling for tax increases.
"Unless there is some new tax proposed, I don't expect any veto," Lingle said. "It was a real good cooperative effort. There isn't a need for a tax increase; there is a lot of creative things we can do."
The governor is already moving to make housing a key element of her 2005 legislative package. During yesterday afternoon's news conference to unveil the task force report, Lingle said new housing projects with the Hawaiian Home Lands Deportment are providing new homes.
She predicted that the housing projects will provide assistance for those needing affordable housing.
"It will be in the thousands of units, regardless of what gets adopted in this legislative session," Lingle promised.
The housing task force was chaired by Marvin Awaya, Pacific Housing Assistance Corp.; Craig Hirai, Hawaiian Association of Realtors; Nani Medeiros, Governor's Office; Don Tarleton, Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corp.; and Dean Uchida, Land Use Research Foundation.
The report notes that not enough homes are being built in Hawaii, "leading to an imbalance between supply and demand."
"Significant increases in construction costs, a shortage of a skilled construction work force, limited land for development and the lengthy land use entitlement process contribute to the high costs of housing," the report said.
The report also warns that "current financial resources are insufficient to meet these costs."
The report calls for "the political will and commitment" to develop partnerships and incentives for developers and builders to provide more homes.
Despite Lingle's opposition to a tax increase, the report says that money must be found to pay for costs of roads and sewers for new housing.
"If there is a political will, a broad-based tax increase could be passed to provide a dedicated funding source for the development of infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer, drainage, solid waste, public facilities and utility corridors."
Another suggestion would be for the state to provide for landowners to get a two-for-one tax deduction or state tax credit for the donation of land for affordable housing.
The report also urges that the state Land Use Commission and county zoning boards streamline operations and eliminate duplicative reviews.
There was also notes on how government could improve existing operations to get more permits processed.
"Make the state Department of Transportation answer their phone; the lack of responsiveness holds up projects," the report urges.
Another suggestion noted that "during the plan review and permitting process, the county should resist the temptation to second-guess the developer's engineers, whose education and training may reflect more current practices."
To get more homes built faster, the report also urges streamlining the building code and changing some of the requirements for "parking, sidewalks, road width and the number of utility outlets."