Grassroot testifies before county councils on housing, property tax relief, permitting
from Grassroot Institute, Oct 21, 2023
The Grassroot Institute submitted testimony this week to the Honolulu, Maui and Kauai county councils about measures that could increase the supply of housing, make better use of rainwater, provide property tax relief and speed up permitting processes.
>> Bill 54 (2023) — "Address windows issue to facilitate office conversions." The Grassroot Insitute supports the proposed avenue for adaptive reuse projects to meet certain ventilation standards, but would prefer it to be permanent and not sunset after five years. Also, it supports Councilmember Calvin Say’s proposed amendment that would reduce from 90 days to 60 days the amount of time the Planning and Permitting director has to act on a project proposal. In addition, Grassroot suggests changing the project approval process from automatic denial without Council action to automatic approval without Council action.
>> Bill 6 (2023) — "Self-certification could slash Honolulu’s permit backlog." The Grassroot Institute supports allowing building applications to be reviewed by professionals qualified to self-certify that the plans and other data are in compliance with all applicable laws. Expanding the use of self-certification could meaningfully slash Honolulu’s permitting backlog, which now stands at about six months.
>> Bill 102 (2023) — "Maui can afford to extend tax break to fire victims." Grassroot supports exempting from the county's property tax through Jan. 1, 2027, all real property damaged or destroyed by the August 2023 wildfires and deemed uninhabitable or unsafe. It would apply to delinquent taxes and penalties as well.The Grassroot Institute believes this measure would be a good way to provide relief to property owners affected by the wildfires.
>> Bill 95 (2023) — "Expand Lahaina tax relief beyond just homeowners." Grassroot supports exempting from the county's property tax through fiscal 2025 all residential real property in Lahaina and other residential real property that was damaged or destroyed by the fires in Kihei and Upcountry, and providing tax relief to hotel and short-term rental owners who use their properties to provide shelter to residents displaced by the fires. However, Grassroot suggests amending the bill to include commercial, industrial, agricultural and other properties in the Lahaina tax map zone.
>> Resolution 2023-64 — "Rainwater catchment could increase housing on Kauai." Grassroot supports encouraging the Kauai Department of Water to amend its rules to allow rainwater catchment systems on agricultural properties. If the rainwater is filtered or otherwise cleaned, it can also be used as potable water for common household purposes. Authorizing rainwater collection systems would remove a primary roadblock to new housing construction: costly water infrastructure upgrades.