Article in Hilo Paper June 14

Tuesday, June 14 8:03 pm

The public is invited to the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance (HSCA) meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday. Focus will be on the proposed county Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance.

The nonprofit group is drafting a proposal to amend the Building Code to allow “more eco-friendly communities and buildings.”

“In Hawaii and around the world, growing numbers of people are co-creating and living a life of intentional community and/or heading back to the land. By working together, pooling resources, consuming less, and designing eco-friendly living paradigms, such folk are essentially already in line with Hawaii state’s goals of becoming more self-reliant and sustainable by the year 2050,” said spokesman Graham Ellis.

“Yet, unlike in Mendocino and other counties where a variety of Class K/Type 2 rural alternative dwellings are on the books as safe, affordable, in-the-sticks housing, here in Hawaii thousands of people are living off the books in unpermitted structures because our building code doesn’t align with an affordable way to create housing for those invested in community/public service along with home business/cottage industry-type work, rather than in traditional well-paying 9-5 jobs, which here on the Big Island are quite scarce,” said Ellis.

“… HSCA is currently working closely with local, state and federal government for housing laws and codes to become more environmentally/financially sustainable both for our local community and for the planet as a whole,” said Ellis. “At present, the laws and zoning codes in Hawaii are quite unfriendly to eco-housing and community living. Overly protective standards in building codes and designs based on mainland cold weather building codes are not affordable, sustainable, or desirable here.”

HSCA supports “affordable, owner-built, low-impact housing on ag land suitable for this island’s varied tropical locations/lifestyles, and based on practical/aesthetic/eco-friendly designs which could potentially utilize local materials if the owner-builder desires — ie, why not make use of invasive hardwoods rather than adding them to the landfill?”

Dwellings inspected and found to be healthy and safe would be recorded as “Rural Sustainable Structures” rather than “unpermitted.”

Visit www.hawaiisustainablecommunity.org. For directions to Friday’s meeting, please call 982-6755.

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