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Kefalas touts housing bills as potential game-changer

Hawaii’s housing shortage could be eased by allowing “smaller homes on smaller lots,” according to Ted Kefalas, director of strategic campaigns at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Speaking late last week with radio host Rick Hamada on NewsRadio 830 KHVH, Kefalas said: “The number one cost of housing is in the land because it’s so valuable, and it’s such a limited resource here. So when you require somebody to have 5,000 or 6,000 square feet, you’re artificially driving up the prices.”

Kefalas touted two bills making their way through the Legislature — HB1630 and SB3202 — that would allow homeowners to subdivide their lots and build additional homes.

“That could be a game-changer for folks that are potentially thinking about leaving and they own a home,” he said.

Hamada said neighborhood boards and homeowners are concerned about the proposals because the impact to others could be substantial when you get into the areas of “valuation of properties.”

Kefalas countered that property values would not be affected under current property tax assessment methods, and in any case, the proposals are “not so much of an aggressive change — we’re not looking to build 50,000 units on Aloha Stadium.” Instead, he said, they would allow “a gradual change to our neighborhoods” without “eating away at the environment or our conservation lands.”

The two also discussed “concerning” proposals to increase the hotel tax. 

“Already we have the highest tourism taxes around, and we’re driving folks to other places,” Kefalas said. “We don’t have a monopoly on paradise.”

If you would like to hear the entire 17-minute conversation, click on the image below.

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