Waikōloa Timeshare, Affordable Housing Project Drives Ahead
A subcommittee of the Hawai‘i County Council moved forward on Tuesday with a plan by a Waikōloa developer to repurpose one of its two golf courses into hundreds of timeshares, multi-family units and lots for single-family homes.
The council’s Planning Committee recommended 7 to 2 that the full County Council approve the rezoning request by Waikōloa Land Company that would allow the company to build the proposed Kumu Hou project, which would consist of 900 timeshare units, 264 multi-family residential units, and up to 25 single-family residential lots.
The project would also boast private community centers, a convenience retail center, golf support facilities, an operations facility, public parks, recreational amenities and associated infrastructure improvements on the Kings’ Golf Course.
The large project has been postponed at the committee levels a couple of times as the developer worked on amendments to the plan to alleviate concerns raised by county officials and community members as the proposal went through the approval process.
Several of those amendments were approved on Tuesday as well, and included in the new bills.
They include that the project will now promise to have a net-zero draw on the region’s aquifer; designate at least 140 units for workforce housing – meaning more could come on board but none could be dropped; that roughly 2% of the company’s profits will go toward its foundation or the county, a portion of which will be designated for affordable housing development and tourism management; and the 27 remaining golf course holes will remain public space, if not golf course holes.
Committee Chair Ashley Kierkiewicz said the amendments show a willingness by the developer to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure that the best plan for all parties could be reached.
“They did a very excellent job,” she told company representatives. “Thank you, you’re really setting the bar.”
The issue will go before the full council for first reading during its March 23 meeting.
The properties comprise roughly 180 acres located between the 75- and 76-mile markers on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway and west of the highway to the King’s Highway Foot Trail, ʻAnaehoʻomalu and Waikōloa.
Another amendment added to the plan calls for the trail system to be turned over to the state to ensure best public stewardship.
Councilmembers Rebecca Villegas and Holeka Inaba voted against the measure. They cited concerns with it consisting of too many timeshare units meant for vacationers over workforce housing.
Inaba also pointed to the fact that the project area in question still has room, as allowed by code, to develop 2,900 units, so there wasn’t a guarantee the timeshare component wouldn’t grow.
“It makes me uneasy,” Villegas said.
Several people testified in support of the project, saying workforce housing was a pressing issue on Hawai‘i Island and the project addressed that, not only with units ready to be build, but with the company’s pledge to allocate money to develop more.
“Their commitment to the community is deeply impressive,” testifier Chris Delaunay said. “Statewide there is a huge crisis, and this project will help.”
Of the at least 140 workforce housing units included in the plan, 60% of that total will go toward families who make between 30-60% of the area median income. The balance will go toward families who make up to 120% of the AMI.
A few testifiers asked the committee to reject the plan, among them Charles Young, of South Kona, who said he thought the developer’s intentions were good, but worried the large project would be harmful to the aquifer and resources in the area. He also suggested that the workforce housing portion be built before timeshares go in. That way, the developer could see more definitely the impacts of development while local people lived there before building out for vacationers.
We need “a future that is not dependent on off-shore markets,” he said.