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City Council Introduces Bill to Expand Guest House on Kauai

LUCKY – A bill introduced on the county council Wednesday would increase the maximum floor area for guest houses, which aims to alleviate the island’s ongoing housing crisis.
LUCKY – A bill introduced on the county council Wednesday would increase the maximum floor area for guest houses, which aims to alleviate the island’s ongoing housing crisis.
Proposed Bill 2860 increases the maximum square footage from 500 to 800 square feet and requires one off-street parking space per home.
“Given the climate of our housing crisis, we believe this measure will provide some much-needed support,” said council vice president Mason Chalk, who introduced the bill along with council member Bernard Carvalho.
Guest houses can be used for temporary accommodation for guests or long-term tenants, but they cannot be used for temporary vacation rentals or homestays. Proponents argue that by increasing the footprint of these houses, they will be able to accommodate more people in each house and make it more likely that landowners with the right to build guest houses will do so.
Several residents testified in support of the bill at Wednesday’s council meeting, with some citing the change as a major factor in allowing them to build guest houses on their land.
“We have several agricultural plots that qualify as guest houses,” said local resident Kurt Bosshard. “If it grows to 800 square feet, we will build a guest house on one of these lots and rent it out at an affordable price.”
He noted that for a 500-square-foot hotel, homeowners would face the same utility bills as for an 800-square-foot hotel.
Janet Kass said she prefers to limit guest houses to 1,000 square feet, but sees the proposal as a step in the right direction.
“(500 square feet) is more than enough for someone who is visiting for a few days,” Kass said. “But it’s not big enough for permanent residents.”
Council member Billy DeCosta expressed support for the measure, comparing the 500-square-foot guest house to a hostel.
“They want you to be almost on top of each other so you can get along with your roommates,” he said. “I don’t think there is any couple that can spend that much time together.”
On the contrary, he said an 800-square-foot home could include a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms.
Councilor Luke Evslin also supported the measure, but asked the planning committee to consider exempting hotels under 500 square feet from the bill’s parking requirement.
“In a way, this increases the demands on whoever wants to build this small block,” Eveslin said.
This is the next step in deregulating guest houses. In 2019 Parliament passed a law changing the definition of a guest house to allow the use of kitchens.
Increasing housing supply remains a top priority for the county, which has identified building 9,000 new housing units by 2035 as a priority in its 2018 master plan.
At the time, 44 percent of households were burdened with expenses, meaning their housing costs exceeded 30 percent of their income, the program notes.
Rents have only risen since then, according to past reports from The Garden Island, due in part to an increase in out-of-state buyers and tenants.
The guest house measure passed unanimously on first reading on Wednesday and will now be referred to the planning committee.
Last week, the council voted for yet another housing measure that would increase taxes on short-term vacation rentals and use the income to fund affordable housing.
The rest of the modern world solved this problem many years ago. Look at Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.
Funny… this is tantamount to agreeing that the political hackers are well aware that their restrictive land use policies and regulations are the real cause of the housing shortage. Now they just need to fix the ridiculous zoning laws. Colin McLeod
We are going in the right direction! ! Need to allow guest houses or ADUs on more agricultural land if there is sufficient infrastructure!
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Post time: Jan-05-2023