Facing immense community opposition, the Honolulu City Council on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposal to build a 91-home subdivision on farmland in Kahuku.

The vote took place after a report by the Department of Planning of Permitting recommended against the project. 

Local contractors had sought extensive exemptions from city land use regulations, permitting fees and more under the state’s affordable housing law called 201H, which allows the council to grant such exemptions. But the council said there were too many unanswered questions.

“At this point with this project, there’s so many unknown things about it,” said Council Member Heidi Tsuneyoshi, whose district includes Kahuku. “There’s issues of not having adequate water, there’s issues of not having sewage hookup capabilities, issues of having a lack of developed drainage and potential flooding. This area sits above other housing areas and a school.”

There were 61 written testimonies opposing the project dubbed Kahuku Manager’s Ridge, largely because it would have been too close to other neighborhoods and controversial wind turbines.

The project, which revived an effort made nearly a decade ago, would have developed 91 lots for single families on 17.1 acres of land designated by the state for agricultural uses. 

Reuben Fung of Oceanview Builders Inc. said the cost of the homes would have ranged from $360,000 to $680,000. He acknowledged the residents’ concerns but said the wind turbines are irrelevant to the affordable housing project. 

Council member Radiant Cordero asked DPP if there was assurance that the lots would remain affordable rather than sold at market rates later on. However, DPP officials said only 47 homes were considered affordable and the rest were at market rates. 

Council member Calvin Say emphasized that he supports affordable housing for local residents and asked DPP if the developers could reapply for the 201H application. DPP officials said they could do so.

The council recommended that the developers get a district boundary amendment before they reapply.

“We do weigh heavily what the community weighs in on when we decide these matters,” Tsuneyoshi said. 

Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
 
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
 
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.

About the Author