Mayor Caldwell signs bill to rezone land for Ho‘opili

Mayor Caldwell today signed Bill 3 (2015) into law, rezoning land in West O‘ahu for the Ho‘opili development.

Mayor Caldwell published an op-ed in the Honolulu-Star Advertiser today explaining his decision to sign the bill:

Ho’opili: A strong step in the right direction

By Mayor Kirk Caldwell

Today, I will sign the Ho‘opili housing bill into law. I want to explain the reasons why I believe Oahu needs a project like Ho‘opili, which allows for the construction of much-needed housing for local families, both market rate and affordable.

We all agree that we are in a real housing crisis; a recent islandwide housing strategy identified the need for over 24,000 housing units, the majority of which need to be at a price workable for low and moderate incomes. And, we need this housing in well-designed, well-connected neighborhoods so that families spend less time in traffic and more time with each other.

Ho‘opili will help meet that growing need. At least 30 percent of the units are required to be affordable to families earning 120 percent of area median income ($114,980 for a family of four). That would add 3,525 homes. A minimum of 10 percent of the units (1,175 units) must be affordable to families earning 80 percent of the area median income or less ($76,650). These are our firefighters, police officers, teachers, young professionals just entering the workforce, to name a few of the groups that are struggling to afford housing.

Some of the homes, approximately 100, will be affordable rental, which is our greatest need, and which no one else is building without heavy government subsidy.

Ho‘opili also contains some of the highest density in a subdivision, with more residential units in commercial and mixed-use areas. Remember the days when many people lived above their stores and businesses? It is still a viable economic model, and with appropriate zoning, Ho‘opili residents will be able to live literally above the place where they work. Think about the cars that will be taken off the road during rush hour commutes.

Ho‘opili is in an area that has been planned for homes since the 1970s, and is aligned with city and state long-range plans, which state that 70 percent of all growth on Oahu is to take place on the Ewa plain. Without following a long-range plan, how will we ever achieve our goal to provide housing for all our residents? In addition, the project was unanimously approved by the Honolulu City Council and takes advantage of our investment in rail.

It will have more efficient land use, a mix of housing, shops and services, and more compact, walkable and connected neighborhoods. Everyone in this community will have real options for walking, biking and taking transit.

The company, D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes, has focused on building community. It has included almost double the required parking spaces, built in urban agriculture and community gardens, and provided sites for the Hawaiian Humane Society, the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, a church, a day care, a park-and-ride facility, and five new public schools.

What makes a great city live or die? The legendary author, Jane Jacobs, a keen observer of what makes great American cities successful, concluded that it is “the need of cities for a most intricate and close-grained diversity of uses that give each other constant mutual support, both economically and socially.”

Ho‘opili embodies this principle, providing a mixed use of business and community that makes it possible to offer a significant inventory of affordable housing, as well as keeping density within Honolulu’s urban growth boundary. It is a solid step in the right direction, and I will be signing this bill with a view toward the future — a future where local people can afford a home in which to raise their families.