Welcome to Inside Honolulu! The Honolulu City Council has recessed until 2011, but there’s still work to be done. There’s also a council vacancy to be filled, with 20 days until the special election. Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.

1:39 p.m. The Case for Building New Homes

A crowd of developers, economists, city and state legislators and other government leaders turned out to hear Washington, D.C.-based economist Elliot Eisenberg explain how more new houses could help generate more revenue for the local economy and local governments.

In the crowd were Mayor Peter Carlisle, Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayashi, Hawaii representatives Chris Lee and Isaac Choy, city Planning and Permitting Director David Tanoue and Environmental Services Director Tim Steinberger.

Eisenberg’s approach was energetic and joke-filled. He often walked through the audience and teased attendees, including the mayor. Mostly, he made the case that building new homes in Honolulu would help boost the local economy.

“Part of why our economy is doing so badly is that we’re just simply not building enough new homes,” Eisenberg said. “You know why housing pays its way here? Because it’s fantastically expensive.”

The high cost of housing, Eisenberg said, offsets the cost to build and add infrastructure around new homes. Mayor Carlisle told Civil Beat he “really, really liked” Eisenberg’s presentation — both for its humor and for the point he made about housing.

“It strikes me as very obvious in my mind,” Carlisle said. “I’m linking this to rail. In my mind, there’s just no doubt the housing that will be developed as a result of linking West Oahu with the rest of the island by reliable, less-expensive transportation. (It’s) going to be overwhelming.”

9:30 a.m. Mayor Preps for Economic Housing Forum

Mayor Peter Carlisle arrived at Honolulu Hale wearing a fresh maile lei just before 9 a.m. on this rainy furlough Friday. Carlisle said it’s a quiet day with “nothing exciting” planned, though he will attend a presentation called “The Economic Impact of Housing in the City and County of Honolulu” at Dole Cannery Ballroom at 10:30 a.m.

“Got to learn about economics,” Carlisle joked. “It’s part of the job.”

The keynote speaker is Elliot Eisenberg, a senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders. Carlisle said he’ll spend the rest of the day catching up on work and cleaning his office.

About the Author