Pilago seeks building code alternatives
by Nancy Cook Lauer
Even as the Hawaii County Council plans a final vote Wednesday on a tough new building code, one councilor want to exempt rural dwellings from some of the provisions.
A resolutions requesting a “Sustainablity Habitat Ordinance”, sponsored by North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago, will be considered by the County Council at its 9 a.m. Wed. meeting..
It’s not the first time a council member sponsored legis. seeking alternatives to the building code.
Pilago said he sponsored the resolution at the request of a community group, Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance, and he is eager to find alternatives to statewide building codes that often prove onerous to the Big Island’s primarily rural population.
“We should certainly want a citizens to work together to make a better community”, Pilago said. “I wouldn’t want the council or the administration to be too heavy-handed in creating standards that are too restrictive for our community.”
Pilago’s resolution doesn’t carry ((the jump from front page to middle page 4)) the weight of law, but requests a proposed law be agreed upon by the DPW before coming back to council. DPW Director Warren Lee said Thursday that the resolution is written broadly and is something his department can at least begin with.
“I think the resolution is well intended, and it sets the table for more deliberation and discussion”, Lee said.
The county faces and April 15 deadline to have an updated building code in place. Bill 270, the new building code, is also on the agenda, making at least the seventh council discussion of the bill since it was introduced more than a year ago.
Lee said his understanding of the Pilago resolution is that it wants to allow alternative building materials such as bamboo, recycled lumber and other local materials. But even if the county allows the alternative materials, they will still need to be approved by the state Building Code Council, of which a DPW staffer is a member.
Health and safety will take priority, Lee said, and the county’s code can’t be less stringent than the state code. Materials must also be tested for strength and other factors, he said.
James Weatherford, representing the HSCA, told the council’s PWPRC last week that the proposed ordinance would apply only to owner/builders on ag. lots in rural areas. But some council members were concerned about health and safety issues, and South Kona’s Brenda Ford suggested efficiency units could be constructed with traditional materials as an alternative way to create affordable housing.