Residents Blended on Hale Waipu’ilani 100% Affordable Housing Plan in S. Maui

The proposed site for the Hale Waipuʻilani all-labor housing project in Kīhei is outlined in red. PC: Alaula Builders

Saying they are for affordable housing – but not in this area – at least a dozen opponents of the 100% labor-intensive Hale Waipu’ilani project in Kīhei pointed to flooding and traffic problems on Monday at the Maui County Council Affordable Housing Committee meeting.

However, a handful of other residents, including the head of Maui’s Affordable Housing Plan, said the 28-unit affordable project is badly needed, even if neighbors don’t want it in their backyards.

Another 400 Maui residents signed a petition from Kahului-based Alaula Builders saying the project should be built, according to county documents.

Monday’s meeting was adjourned until 9 a.m. on June 13.

Developed by Alaula Builders, Hale Waipu’ilani is seeking the County’s Fast Track Affordable Housing Process to create 28 units for sale on 1.53 acres at 16 E. Waipu’ilani Road, an area surrounded by residential properties.

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Under County Residential Workforce Housing Policy 2.97, developers can apply for county code exemptions or changes to quickly build 100% affordable projects.

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After receiving the request, the council has 60 days to decide the fate of the project.

Homes offered by Hale Waipu’ilani range from one bedroom, one bath at 430 square feet to three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms at 1,360 square feet.

The buildings would sit on post and pillar foundations and stormwater retention areas would be created under and around the buildings. In addition, 59 parking spaces would be included.

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Eight units would go for 80% to 100% of the area’s median income, 14 units would be for 100% to 120% AMI, and six units would be sold at 120% to 140% AMI.

At Tuesday’s meeting, developers said they want affordable housing, but if that doesn’t materialize, they may have to look for alternatives. One option would create four lots and up to 12 homes at market price, which would require government review but not public input.

“With this plan, there will be no community outreach, no council approval would be required, no Planning Commission approval and no affordable housing,” said Vince Bagoyo, lead consultant for the project.

Many opponents of the project said at Monday’s meeting that they live near the proposed project site and that it is suffering from severe flooding.

“I’m opposed to this project because of how it invades my privacy, but I don’t expect it to move you,” neighbor Lloyd Johnson said. “I’ve heard someone say we’re just a band from NIMBY, Not In My Backyard, but there’s so much more to it.”

“This site is prone to frequent flooding, it is foreseeable that owners will have to trudge ankle-deep from house to car for several days after heavy seasonal rains,” he added.

Mike Moran, president of the Kīhei Community Association, said he supports the developers and other projects they do, but not this one due to the flooded location.

“This one just isn’t a good choice,” he said.

Vernon Kalanikau said the area was part of a wetland, water was accumulating on the property and there were streams flowing under the site.

“You go two feet over this proposed project, you’ll hit the water, and we all know this place is flooded,” he said.

In response to a question from the committee about these concerns, Doyle Betsill, president of Alaula Builder, said he built a housing estate next to this project 10 to 15 years ago.

“As you know, we are surrounded by houses on all four sides. . . there are some challenges with the construction in this area, but everything is solved by normal construction techniques,” he said.

“So groundwater in a nutshell is not an issue for us when it comes to construction,” Betsill added.

The regulatory branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a 2021 letter to the applicant, determined that the project site does not contain any waters of the United States, including wetlands or navigable waters of the United States, defined by its rules.

Others testified in support of the project, including Jeff Gilbreath of Hawaiian Community Assets, who was commissioned by the council to create Maui County’s Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan submitted to the council in 2021.

He said the project had been approved and was included in the plan’s list of priority projects.

“It’s important to have a conversation with the community; you’re obviously going to have to weigh traffic concerns and the priorities of existing owners, with the real need of families who need a place to live on the island,” he said. “And you’ll keep hearing that affordable housing is great, just not in my backyard.”

Alaula Builders also works on 100% workforce housing projects Kuikahi Village in Wailuku and Hale Kaiola in North Kihei. Forty Maui families were selected in a lottery in March for Hale Kaiola, which is slated to open in September.

About Alexander Estrada

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