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Here’s one thing we keep saying in our testimonies on housing

Photo by Charley Myers

Research showing the need to liberalize Hawaii’s land-use and zoning laws is out there for all to see, and more is forthcoming

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has testified on many housing and land-use bills this year, and the 2022 legislative session is not over. One thing we did in many of those testimonies was refer our lawmakers to past research on the subject produced by the institute.

Perhaps you have read some of our testimonies on the housing bills already. Either way, here is what we have been saying:

“Too often, well-meaning land-use regulation and zoning laws frustrate efforts to increase the stock of available housing. The Grassroot Institute has issued several publications that analyze how zoning and other regulations throttle the growth of housing.

“One was our policy report “Reform the Hawaii LUC to encourage more housing,” which advocates giving the counties more authority to make decisions, thus reducing the amount of bureaucracy and preventing the state Land Use Commission from becoming a de facto state zoning commission.

“Another was “Build up or build out? How to make housing more affordable,” which recommends “increasing the area of urbanized land and building marketable densities outside of the existing urban footprint,” which currently is about only 5% of all land in the state. For example, an increase of only 1 or 2 percentage points in Hawaii’s urban-designated land would be equivalent to a 20% to 40% increase, respectively, in lands available for more housing.

“In addition, the institute has made available a zoning-reform toolkit, “How to Build Affordable, Thriving Neighborhoods,” which explores different ways to increase housing supply and improve affordability by reforming state and local zoning restrictions.

“We summarized many proposals from the toolkit in a commentary published in The Maui News, ‘50 ways — at least — to update Maui’s zoning code.

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