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A New Land Use Initiative To Improve The Housing Market

By HOM Editorial Team
November 2016
Pearl City
Photo: Aerial view of Pearl City on the Island of Oʻahu. The median price for a family home on on O’ahu is $700,000.

Ensuring that the Hawaiian islands remain beautiful by regulating land use is the environmentally responsible thing to do, but does create a challenge for islanders who are left with a limited amount of habitable space. This lack of habitable land hinders the construction of affordable housing – making Hawaii one of the most expensive places to live in the United States and contributing to the island’s critical homelessness situation.

The economic and social challenges that limited living space brings is one that the Hawaii Association of REALTORS® wants to address with a new Land Use Initiative. HAR believes that the initiative will help to revise outdated land use regulations and improve the island’s housing situation. Some of these regulations have been in place since the 1960’s and add unnecessary costs as well as creating obstacles for the construction of affordable housing.

Because the association’s goal is to foster progress without hurting the island’s environment they moved forward with caution. Myoung Oh, the Government Affairs Director states, “HAR acknowledges our collective responsibility to protect Hawaii’s exceptional natural resources.”

HAR sought the advice of the National Association of REALTORS® who delivered insight with a land use initiative report by Robinson & Cole LLC. The report provided a thorough analysis of Hawaii’s housing situation, helping HAR to lay a well thought out and environmentally responsible plan to move forward with the proposed Land Initiative.

The report advised HAR to wait until all of Hawaii’s counties had completed the process of designating their protecting lands before introducing changes to the land use regulations. HAR agreed, and is using this time to gather more data about how to effectively reform Hawaii’s Land Use System.

The association will also be working with candidates for state office, as well as incumbents, about land use issues. “We’ll share ideas, and talk about where our efforts have fallen short, and where we can play a role moving forward. These conversations help our elected officials see us as a partner in solving land use challenges, rather than an opponent,” says Oh.

HAR is currently in the process of conducting a major consumer survey to gauge sentiment on everything from construction and traffic, to affordable housing, to the perception of REALTORS®. “It should be very revealing,” says Oh. “We’ll share the data with our legislators, again, as partners. And we’ll also use it to inform future consumer awareness efforts, to educate the public about the value of REALTOR® advocates.”

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