Two Honolulu City Council members want D.R. Horton to include cheaper housing in its planned 11,750-home development between Ewa and Kapolei.
The Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee is planning to take up two amendments on Thursday when it considers Bill 3, a measure to rezone nearly 1,300 acres of prime farmland to make way for a new mixed-use community.
The amendments propose several changes to the development, including limiting how many homes D.R. Horton can sell before transportation infrastructure is built. But both city lawmakers agree that they want to lower the prices of the units that must be sold at “affordable” rates.
Map of proposed Hoopili development between Ewa and Kapolei.
Courtesy of D.R. Horton
Because it is seeking a zone change, D.R. Horton is already required to set aside 30 percent of the homes for people earning no more than 140 percent of area median income, or $115,640 for a family of four, according to the city’s 2014 affordable housing guidelines.
Twenty percent of that total must be for people earning less than 120 percent of AMI ($99,120 for a family of four in 2014), and 10 percent must be affordable to people earning 80 percent of area median income ($76,650 for a family of four in 2014).
Councilman Ron Menor from Central Oahu doesn’t think that’s enough.
That would require the company to set aside 30 percent of its for-sale homes to people earning 120 percent of area median income or less. The company could also choose to instead set aside 15 percent of its homes to rent to people earning 80 percent of the area median income or less.
The amendment also includes an option to provide rental units off-site, or pay the city a fee equal to the cost of providing affordable homes.
Under Menor’s proposal, all of the affordable homes would have to remain so for at least 30 years. The current city policy only requires that homes remain affordable for 10 years.
“We really have a housing crisis on this island,” Menor said. “The main issue or problem is that there is a significant demand, a huge pent-up demand for affordable rentals that the market has not been able to meet.”
A 2011 state study found that 70 percent of Honolulu’s housing need between 2012-2016 would come from residents earning 80 percent of area median income or less. Nearly 60 percent of the total units needed on Oahu were rental rather than for-sale units.
Anderson’s amendment is similar to Menor’s in that it would require D.R. Horton to sell 20 percent of the homes at Hoopili to people earning no more than 120 percent of area median income, and 10 percent to people earning no more than 10 percent of area median income.
But Anderson’s measure is more flexible, allowing the developer to sell to higher income groups if it can’t find buyers within 90 days.
Cameron Nekota from D.R. Horton declined to comment in an email on Tuesday, stating that the company is still reviewing the proposed amendments.
In addition to changing the housing rules, the Menor’s amendment also proposes several changes relating to transportation. He wants to require D.R. Horton to limit the number of residences it can sell before the rail line and new H-1 lanes are completed. Menor also wants D.R. Horton to pay for 90 percent of the cost of an annual bus pass for each new home for five years.
Meanwhile, Anderson wants the developer to build a new fire station, among other changes.