Updated: October 27, 2022
Despite objections from local for-sale affordable housing developers and Maui County’s administration, rules that establish new affordable housing sales price guidelines narrowly passed second and final reading Tuesday at Maui County Council.
The vote of 5-4, with Council Members Tasha Kama, Yuki Lei Sugimura, Mike Molina and Alice Lee dissenting, reflected previous votes in council and in committee.
When asked whether Mayor Michael Victorino will sign or veto Bill 107, a Mayor’s Office spokesperson declined to answer.
“Bill 107 has not yet been transmitted to the Mayor’s Office,” a statement to Maui Now said. “Mayor Victorino will not comment until he has had an opportunity to thoroughly review the final bill.”
The new rule includes a maximum monthly payment — including principle, interest, taxes and insurance — of 31% of the homeowner’s income in county-subsidized developments.
Introduced by Council Member Gabe Johnson, Bill 107 promises to make affordable homes more affordable to Maui residents.
“Maui County’s median sales price for houses is more than $1 million — making it nearly impossible for most local workers and middle-class families to obtain homeownership,” Johnson, chairperson of the council’s Affordable Housing Committee, said in a statement following the vote. “Maui County also has the highest ‘affordable housing’ prices in the state, and this bill will now ensure that more local residents will qualify for affordable housing and workforce housing opportunities.”
However, developers have said the bill doesn’t pencil out, creates too much risk for projects and ultimately hinders affordable housing. Also, nonprofits Hawaiian Community Assets and Hawaiʻi Community Foundation have testified against the bill.
The administration during testimony Tuesday said it would support the bill if council removed a section mandating that the sales price must be calculated using only principle and interest capped at 28% of gross annual income within each range when a developer does not receive direct county subsidies.
An effort by Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura to pull the language failed.
However, an amendment by Council Member Kelly Takaya King was successful, which allows projects previously approved by council to be grandfathered in under existing affordable sales price guidelines.
King’s proposal came on the heels of testimony by a representative for Mike Atherton’s Waikapū Country Town, who said changing the price guidelines would have a negative impact on the project.
The project, which has widespread support, has been in the works for well over a decade.