A lot of popular ideas about the problem are focused on trying to reduce “bad” demand for local housing: taxing owners of perpetually unoccupied units, cracking down on short-term rentals, disincentivizing quick-flip investing. Those kinds of things might help a little, but in the absence of developing more affordable housing, they’re likely not enough.
Development in Hawaii is fraught. Some challenges are unavoidable. Since Hawaii is so geographically isolated, building materials will always be more expensive than they are on the mainland, and the history of development in Hawaii is inextricably linked to the disenfranchisement and displacement of Hawaiians, still ongoing. There’s no easy way around these issues.
But some of the challenges to developing new housing are self-inflicted, specifically when it comes to zoning laws. A growing body of literature suggests a direct correlation between strict zoning requirements and housing affordability…Like