(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi’s emergency proclamation on housing underwent a revision on Friday, as Governor Josh Green enacted a new version of the measure.
The emergency was first declared in July as a part of an effort to speed up the construction of thousands of affordable units for needy residents across Hawaiʻi, officials said, with the hope it will streamline the processes for development. However, critics objected to the move, saying the measure would sidestep important environmental and cultural protections, and could potentially shut the public out of the process. The public backlash, and reported threats, were enough to drive Nani Medeiros, the chair of the Build Beyond Barriers Working Group, to step down.
The new proclamation makes changes to some of the more controversial sections of the first proclamation. Alterations include adding the term “affordable” housing to the title, excludes the area affected by the Lahaina fires, reinstates Sunshine Law for working group meetings, and restores certain historic and environmental preservation laws.
“It was always about affordable housing,” said Governor Green in a news release. “We listened to the public and we clarified that the EP is about affordable housing and for helping families affected by the housing crisis. This new EP focuses on what we all agree will push forward new affordable housing projects.”
Here are some of the changes in the new measure, as provided by the State of Hawaiʻi:
- Adds “affordable” housing to the title. This change reiterates the focus of the Build Beyond Barriers Working Group on pushing forward affordable housing development in Hawaiʻi;
- Clarifies that the EP does not apply to the region of Lahaina. The rebuilding of Lahaina will begin only when the residents of Lahaina are ready and according to the timeline they choose;
- Reinstates the state Sunshine Law for Build Beyond Barriers Working Group meetings. Meetings will be conducted in accordance with Sunshine Law and will be virtual, with testifiers to speak only on agenda items with a strict two-minute time limit to summarize their written or verbal testimony;
- Restores HRS Chapter 6E relating to the Historic Preservation Law;
- Restores HRS Chapter 343 relating to Environmental Impact Statements;
- Rescinds the exemption for projects larger than 15 acres and less than 100 acres from going before the state Land Use Commission for zoning and other approvals. After careful analysis, it was found that less than a handful of private real estate projects will benefit from this section of the EP.
“There are some significant changes in the latest EP,” said Governor Green. “What is unchanged, is our administration’s unwavering commitment to cut red tape and build more affordable homes for Hawaiʻi residents.”