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County: 250 new units needed each year to address West Maui’s housing crisis

By Staff | Jul 18, 2019

WEST MAUI – The West Maui workforce affordable housing market is deprived of inventory – some might even call it bone dry.

In the cloud over the decades, like a desert mirage, projects have appeared and disappeared, under various names, many with unfulfilled promises.

The Villages of Leiali’i made its debut appearance in the 1996 West Maui Community Plan (WMCP) as a state Housing Finance Development Corp. project with 4,813 housing units.

Pu’ukoli’i Village, an AMFAC/JMB proposition, was a 1,700-unit residential community also floated in the 1996 WMCP.

On the Kaanapali Land Management (formerly AMFAC and AMFAC/JMB) website (www.kaanapalidevelopment.com), idyllic Master Plans are posted, including Kaanapali 2020, Pu’ukoli’i Village Mauka and Waine’e.

It’s like a ceaseless cycle with no cures – just Band Aids, offering quick fixes.

The wearewestmaui.org website defined the chronic conditions in a recent Technical Resource Paper on Land Use planning: “After years of utilizing the outdated approach of separating land uses in West Maui, this community is facing a jobs-housing imbalance, traffic congestion and a housing affordability crisis.”

At the County Council Affordable Housing Committee meeting held on July 3 in Wailuku, Linda Munsell, deputy director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns, updated the panel on opportunities currently on the table.

“The County of Maui needs something on the order of 14,000 housing units to be built by 2025,” she said.

In West Maui, the administration executive advised, the data indicates that in order to meet the demand of our residents alone, we should be building about 250 units every single year.

The stats are staggering.

Current data indicates less than 400 units have been currently under construction on the West Side since 2015.

“That’s an average of only 100 units per year. Of those 400 units, only 245 are workforce or affordable units. Between now and 2025, we will need more than 1,500 new units for our West Maui residents,” Munsell said.

With the help of Munsell’s testimony before the committee and searches on the Internet, Lahaina News has learned about affordable housing opportunities, virtual and real.

Kaiaulu at Kaanapali is a Howie Kihune Jr.Aina Lani Pacific development. Thirty-three families have been taken off the extremely competitive market search. The LLC is also in the planning phase of another affordable community: The Residences at Pailolo Place, a 42-unit condo-style complex situated on the boarder of Napili and Kapalua across the street from Napili Kai Beach Resort.

“The Star Noodle project is an affordable rental project being proposed by Ikaika Ohana,” Munsell explained. “They changed the project name from Kai Mauka Ike Nui to Kaiaulu O Kupuohi. It is located in the area of Star Noodle, so it’s easy to refer to it that way. If I remember correctly, they are proposing 84 units total.”

“This project is tentatively scheduled to be presented at the July 24 Affordable Housing Committee meeting.”

Munsell noted that there has been some discussion by Committee Chair Tasha Kama of holding that meeting in Lahaina.

The Pulelehua development has been on the radar screen for development for at least a decade.

“Right now,” Munsell advised, “the Pulelehua project is in the planning stages. They will still have to go back to the (Maui) Planning Commission to make some changes there; so, although we anticipate that they might start their phase one in the next six years, it will really depend on how they move forward.”

Phase one is designed with 130 workforce and 120 market rental units.

Munsell threw other names into the mix that are in various phases of development, including Makila Farms, Keawe Street Apartments at Villages of Leiali’i and the Bagoyo Project in Olowalu.

Munsell was careful about her predictions. “Everything else is far – what we think is far out. That doesn’t mean that they can’t leap from one list to another.”

When asked about the total units anticipated on West Maui the next five years, Munsell answered, “Hard to predict. It depends based on the time it takes for projects to move forward. In our estimation, a lot of that can change based upon decisions that are made (by council).”

Information about the Affordable Housing Committee meeting schedule can be found at MauiCounty.us, or call the Office of Council Services at 270-7838.