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Community divide over an affordable housing project planned for Kailua deepens

A rendering shows the proposed affordable housing complex along Kawainui Street in Kailua.
A rendering shows the proposed affordable housing complex along Kawainui Street in Kailua.(Ahe Group)
Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 8:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An affordable rental housing project in a Kailua neighborhood continues its uphill battle, despite strong opposition.

The complex is slated for Kawainui Street. Critics say 73-unit, three and four-story buildings are out of character with the neighboring single-family homes.

But supporters say Kailua desperately needs affordable housing.

[Read a previous report: Neighbors raise concerns for planned affordable housing project in Kailua]

“It’s really important right now more than ever that we get affordable housing developed,” project supporter Matthew Guyer said.

The council zoning committee heard hours of testimony Tuesday during a hearing on the matter.

“As kamaaina, we’ve lost so much and we’ve gained so little. Kailua prices have become so high, the thought of this proposed development entering our residential neighborhood is where we have to draw the line,” Kailua resident Malia Peters said.

She believes in the project, but says its an issue of location.

“I don’t want to take this personally out on any group, it wouldn’t matter who it is. It’s just not the right location. While some things must change in Kailua at our expense, and yes we must be progressive, there’s also some things that must be preserved like our precious coconut grove neighborhood area,” Peters added.

Supporters add that if it’s a matter of location, opponents should help find a solution.

“You can tell none of the community members are coming up with an alternate location in their community that they’d be acceptable for an affordable place. They’re just saying ‘No no no,’” Guyer said.

If the zoning committee takes no action, the project will be automatically approved later this month.

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