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Sen. Stanley Chang to host virtual housing conference

By Staff | Jun 25, 2021

Hosted by State Sen. Stanley Chang, the Aug. 12 Zoom conference will feature leading housing experts from around the world.

HONOLULU — Hawaii State Sen. Stanley Chang, chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, will be hosting a virtual housing conference entitled “1,000 Homes Per Acre: Planning for Sustainable Housing Growth in Hawaii” as part of an active effort to find new and viable solutions to address the state’s escalating housing crisis.

This conference seeks to explore the possibilities raised by high-density housing construction as a solution to Hawaii’s severe, generations-long housing shortage.

The program will feature presentations and panel discussions by housing and industry experts from various cities around the world, including Vancouver, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv.

The conference will take place on Thursday, Aug. 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. HST. Admission is open to the public without cost.

The program tentatively includes the following topics presented by experts from around the world:

1) 500 units per acre in Vancouver’s indigenous-owned Senakw development;

2) Lessons from the world’s densest city, Hong Kong;

3) The role of place attachment psychology in preventing densification of urban environments;

4) The pitfalls of too much open space in urban settings;

5) Visualizing what various levels of density look like;

6) The consequences of planning cities for cars, not pedestrians.

According to the conference website, “Hawaii has a severe, decades-long housing shortage. The main problem is a lack of supply. On average, about 11,000 students will graduate from DOE high schools this year — not even including private schools. Only about 2,000 homes will be built. It doesn’t matter if all 11,000 are billionaires; the housing simply does not exist. Even if not a single wealthy overseas investor, Airbnb vacation renter or homeless person on a one-way ticket ever came to Hawaii again, we would not have enough housing for future generations of our own local people.

“If the problem is as simple as just building more, why hasn’t it happened? Because building more is perhaps the single most controversial political issue in Hawaii. We’ve heard all the concerns before: traffic, noise, crime, Hawaii’s unique ‘sense of place,’ the environment, lack of infrastructure, loss of good farmland or pristine natural environments, and blocked views, to name a few. Hawaii’s heavy level of land use regulation is a product of these concerns. While some products do come to fruition, it’s nowhere close to the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of units that Hawaii needs to actually end the housing shortage.

“The good news is, we can achieve large-scale new housing construction while meeting the objections: very high density… High density towers can be built for far less per square foot than one-off projects, which means they can be sold for prices most people can afford.”

For more information, contact Lynn Robinson-Onderko at l.robinson-onderko@capitol.hawaii.gov or (808) 586-8420.