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Lanai Rental Housing Project Gets Green Light

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WAILUKU, Hawaii — A county affordable housing committee voted to recommend approval of a rental project on Lanai, where no new affordable homes have been built in 30 years.

The Hōkūao 201H Housing Project, which was proposed by billionaire Larry Ellison’s company Pūlama Lānaʻi, includes the development of 150 two-bedroom rental homes on former pineapple fields. About half of the units will be market-rate priced. The project will be developed under the state’s fast-track approval process for affordable housing.

The Maui County Council's Affordable Housing Committee voted 8-0 to recommend giving the project the green light after multiple meetings packed with public testimony and hours of discussion over concern about the project's number of market-rate homes, The Maui News reported Friday.

Council Chairwoman Alice Lee said the project is “desperately needed.”

Pūlama Lānaʻi had sought an exemption for sidewalks in the future subdivision, saying including them would cost about $2 million. Sharon Thom, senior vice president of development and construction for Pūlama Lānaʻi, said the sidewalks would change the “look and feel” of Lanai City.

Committee Chairman Gabe Johnson argued to include sidewalks, saying the county needs to advocate for pedestrian safety and accessibility.

“I really think sidewalks and walkable towns are a very important part of our community,” he said.

Preliminary plans include sidewalks.

The project also includes a 1-acre park, a 1,500-square-foot community center and 60 parking stalls.

Ten of the units must be reserved for teachers in grades pre-K through 12 residing on Lanai, according to a condition initiated by Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura.

The Hōkūao project will be financed by Lanai Island Holdings, another entity owned by Ellison, who acquired 98% of Lanai in 2012.

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