The current Planning Director for the County of Kaua’i recently told us that bona fide Affordable Housing Developers had told him that they had left the Island because of our “Discretionary Approval Process” ! He said that they were not willing to “Gamble a mill or two and a couple of years to FIND OUT if they can do a project !”
WE MUST CHANGE THIS !
SO WE HAVE PROPOSED AND ARE PROPOSING:
THE E KOMO MAI
“Affordable Housing Preliminary Project
Application and Approval (AHAA) Process
Although the current permit application process is safe and familiar, so it feels comfortable to we who are “On-island”, it is contributing to keeping away the much-needed, larger affordable housing developers. As it stands now, all of the pressure and risk are on the Developer. He has to spend a medium sized fortune and years of work, before he knows if his project will even be accepted. The County can dramatically reduce (even share) that risk and simplify the entire process, by implementing the following steps:
Part 1: The Mayor inaugurates a simple Kaua’i Consolidated Affordable Housing Preliminary Concept Approval Process – AHAA.
This could have TWO simple steps:
Submittal by the Developer and/or Land Owner for the “Preliminary Application Process / Concept Proposal” – this process is clearly designed to encourage creation and submission of project proposals – so it does not require time-consuming and expensive professional work or studies which are costly (in time and money), but it just requires a simple, easy and credible package. The goal is for this package to be likely to receive the Project Expediter, Housing Director and the Mayor’s “Preliminary Approval”.
In order to manifest its greatest potential, this process would proactively identify and expedite “Designated Affordable Housing Projects.” When identified, or designated, by the County, these would receive special treatment under the County’s authority granted in HRS 46-15 (“Experimental and demonstration project(s)” – the literal purpose of 46-15) and/or 201H (and other support / incentives) to achieve the intent of rapidly creating many more affordable housing units.
The submission for this Process should include:
A written overview of the project, including land area*, number of units, estimated price points for rental and/or sales, provisions for permanent affordability and a preliminary guesstimate of any special needs under HRS 46-15 –
* If the proposed “Project Concept Proposal” is generic and/or intended to be replicated at multiple sites, exact development site may be “To be Determined” (“TBD”) and Project Concept can receive “Conditional 46-15 Designation”. Upon determination of specific site and approval by Mayor and Council, 46-15 Designation is final. With that major risk barrier of permit approval having been passed, the Developer may confidently proceed with all subsequent development steps.
Preliminary Plans for “Preliminary Application Process / Concept Proposal” which may be written and/or graphic, and can be only slightly better than the back of a napkin, but display the overall concept plausibly.
The “Final plans and specifications” are the “As-Builts” of the Project, provided that the final plans and specifications (per 46-15) “Do not significantly deviate from the approved preliminary plans” and “The final plans and specifications shall constitute the standards for the particular project.”
A preliminary, estimated financial ProForma.
2. Approval (or non-approval) by the “Project Expediter”, the Housing Director and the Mayor, which results in “Formal Designation as an Affordable Project” and in most cases, “Designation Under HRS 46-15 and/or 201H”, then resulting in a Public Hearing (46-15 only ?), submission to Council and (if approved) authorization to proceed with construction plans and activities through to Project completion with CO and occupancy.
This must be a simple and swift process, which will carry on the Housing Department’s prodigious work to dramatically “Lower the Burdensome Barriers to Entry” for those who want to HELP (by proposing and building Affordable Projects). Thus, Developers and Land Owners who want to help ease our housing crisis will recognize that – by saving them substantial time and money – the County of Kaua’i has turned the corner, and the application process is no longer so expensive, time consuming and daunting, but rather encourages and helps them to “Come do it . . . now” – E Komo Mai!
Part 2: Appointment of an “Affordable Housing Project Expediter” whose only responsibilities will be Affordable Project related:
Manage the County’s aggressive outreach to attract Affordable Housing & Living proposals.
Manage the review and analysis of Projects accepted into the “Preliminary Approval Process / Concept Approval” indicating probable approval if final plans meet the requirement of “…do not substantially deviate from the approved preliminary plans and specifications” and health and safety are not compromised.
Approve Projects for Final Project Approval and, if 46-15, arrange Public Hearing and Council Consideration for final “Designation under HRS 46-15” and provide such “Final Designation”
Hire staff and develop a Kaua’i County “Affordable Housing & Living Support Office” which will do proactive outreach to bring in new projects and expedite existing projects as though they were what they are . . . emergency actions necessary to end an full blown disaster!
The Project Expediter will have proactive meetings with the Developer during Project development and construction to keep Project on track and within “Experimental and demonstration” leeway so that final plans and specifications “…do not significantly deviate from the approved preliminary plans” and health and safety are not compromised.
Part 3: The Mayor and the County – primarily, but not solely, through the Project Expediter – use all reasonable means to encourage Affordable Developers to come forward – including proactive “Outreach”, demonstrating the County’s new paradigm of “All-out support for Affordable Housing & Living Projects - particularly under HRS 46-15 and/or 201H.”
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