HSCA Sustainable Habitat Resolution

A RESOLUTION REQUESTING THE HAWAI‘I COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS TO ESTABLISH A SUSTAINABLE HABITAT ORDINANCE.

WHEREAS, the purpose and intent of a Sustainable Habitat Ordinance is, in part, to provide minimum requirements for the protection of life, limb, health, property, safety, and the welfare of the general public and the owners and occupants of dwellings and appurtenant structures, through waiver or exemption from some existing codes, and adoption of alternative standards; and

WHEREAS, a Sustainable Habitat Ordinance will permit the use of the ingenuity and preferences of individual owner/builders of dwellings on agricultural parcels in rural areas of Hawai‘i County for owner occupancy, and allow the use of substitute materials, procedures and alternatives, to the specifications prescribed by various and future international technical codes, to the extent that a reasonable degree of health and safety is provided; and

WHEREAS, Hawai‘i Island has a shortage of affordable housing; and

WHEREAS, thousands of residences on Hawai‘i Island have been constructed without Hawai‘i County building permits, particularly residences constructed in rural areas; and

WHEREAS, the cost of construction of houses and outbuildings in accordance with the current Building Code is cost prohibitive for many residents of Hawai‘i Island who reside in rural areas; and

WHEREAS, there are many locally available, underutilized, renewable building materials, such as bamboo, tropical hardwoods, and other tropical wood species, on Hawai‘i Island, particularly in rural areas; and

WHEREAS, the use of locally-available and minimally processed building materials can reduce overall construction costs and result in a smaller ecological footprint; and

WHEREAS, the rural areas of Hawai‘i Island are remote, often serviced by substandard roads, and the cost of transporting building materials from commercial centers to rural areas, results in extra cost to the residents; and

WHEREAS, substantial rural areas of Hawai‘i Island are zoned agricultural, and are not serviced by public utilities; and

WHEREAS, Hawai‘i Island is blessed with a mild climate and in many rural areas there is no need for insulation, artificial heating and cooling, and the construction materials associated with said construction; and

WHEREAS, according to the Hawai‘i County Integrated Resource and Solid Waste Management Plan, lumber accounts for 10% or more of materials disposed of in Hawai‘i County’s landfills; and

WHEREAS, the Hawai‘i County Integrated Resource and Solid Waste Management Plan commits Hawai‘i County to diverting resources from its two landfills; and

WHEREAS, the first goal of the County of Hawai‘i Agriculture Development Plan is to expand Hawai‘i Island food production so that 30% of its residents’ demands for food can be supplied by local producers by 2020; and

WHEREAS, establishment and occupation of owner-built sustainable habitat on agricultural land increases food production on that land, contributing to island-wide food sufficiency goals; and

WHEREAS, self-reliance, resource sharing, neighborly cooperation, and community living are a vital part of economic livelihood, including building construction, in Hawai‘i Island’s rural areas; and

WHEREAS, in 2005 the State of Hawai‘i enacted Act 8 which provided for the development of a sustainability plan to address the vital needs of Hawai‘i through the year 2050 and established the Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Task Force to review the Hawai‘i State Plan and the State’s comprehensive planning system; and

WHEREAS, the Task Force’s first priority is to modify, correct, and improve upon the nine benchmarks that are intended to initiate discussion.  First among these benchmarks is to increase affordable housing opportunities for households up to 140% of median income; and

WHEREAS, alternative rural building codes have been successfully passed in other jurisdictions in the United States; now therefore;

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I that it requests the Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works to co-operate with the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance to establish minimum requirements for owners and occupants of limited density rural dwellings and appurtenant structures in support of a forthcoming Sustainable Habitat Ordinance.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution shall be transmitted to the Director, County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works and Mr. Graham Ellis, Chair, Hawai‘i Sustainable Community Alliance.

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