An editorial in ”’The Honolulu Advertiser,”’ Friday, Feb. 4, 2005, entitled “Affordable housing must be addressed,” features the absurd thinking that has lead to a housing crisis in Hawaii.

After detailing the nature of the severe housing shortage that exists here, and there is no argument from me about that, the author launches into the plethora of qualifications that creates the problem.

To quote, “Our quality of life is so dependent on the environment, and as we move to develop more affordable housing, we must address very serious concerns relating to traffic, preservation of open space and agricultural lands, and visual pollution. Hawaii’s growth has to include a more efficient use of land, safeguards for the environment and open space, more attractive development, viable transportation options, and in urban areas, new neighborhoods that are more walkable and compact.”

Now that is a real challenge … “Develop more affordable housing. . . address very serious concerns about traffic . . . preserve open space . . . and agricultural lands . . . visual pollution (sic) . . . ” — and address developing — ” . . .more efficient use of land . . . safeguards for the environment. . . more attractive development . . . new neighborhoods . . . viable transportation options . . . new neighborhoods that are more walkable and compact,” — all at the same time.

That sounds like Utopia.

Using myself as an example: I live in Waikiki; I occasionally go to the “walkable and compact” Ward district lauded in the aforementioned article; I drive there.

To take the bus would be a huge waste of my time. There aren’t enough hours in the day. So, I drive there and I leave. Takes 20 minutes as opposed to an hour and 20 minutes. This is called efficiency.

The vast majority of people who go there do the same. There aren’t enough people who live in the Ward-Kakaako area to support it. There never will be. It is physically impossible. And the majority will never take the bus. If they did the area would whither and die. TheBus couldn’t handle the number of people required. This is a fact.

Impact fees, government regulations, taxes and an inefficient approval process are all reasons why affordable housing is so difficult to come by in these fair islands. But so is the pipe dream that we can maintain some sort of utopian rural community at the same time. It isn’t going to happen. The dynamics of reality are against it.

One of the strengths of the market is that it eventually overcomes the best laid plans of social planners. At some point the lack of affordable housing will force those in government to relax the laws that prevent its creation. But not until tremendous damage has been done to the economy and the people in general. It is only a question of how large the homeless population becomes before we realize the mistake we are making.

Normally, I would expect a person in the real estate field, as is the person who wrote the editorial I am objecting to, to be more astute.

The problem is that the environmentalist-socialist mindset has become so all pervasive that even people who should know better buy into it.

The idea that we must embrace, “smart growth” has become a given. Doesn’t matter how dumb those, “smart growth” ideas may be.

I agree that we must reduce the number of impact fees, regulations and other impediments to building new housing. I don’t agree that we need to also submit to a whole other set of unquestioned, (and unwritten) regulations as to where and in what form such housing must be built.

If the most efficient use of agricultural land is to build affordable housing on it, then so be it. Isn’t that better than thousands of homeless in the streets? I guess it depends upon which utopia you seek.

”’Don Newman, senior policy analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Hawaii’s first and only free market public policy institute focused on individual freedom and liberty, can be reached at:”’

”’This editorial is intended to provoke thought, discussion and an examination of issues. It does not reflect official policy of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. See the GRIH Web site at:”’

”’ reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to”’



Daily Policy Digest


Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2005

Walking is the most dangerous form of transportation, accounting for 11.3 percent of transportation fatalities nationwide, according to the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

Data from the STPP’s 2004 report reveals:

In 2003 some 4,827 pedestrians were killed while crossing the street and an additional 70,000 were injured.

Between 2002-2003, three Florida metropolitan areas topped the list of the three most dangerous cities to walk: Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and West-Palm Beach-Boca Raton.

The most dangerous cities, says STPP are characterized by wide, high-speed arterial roads that are hazardous for pedestrians.

The majority (about 52 percent) of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roads, while less than 15 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, however, more than 40 percent of pedestrians were killed in areas where no crosswalk was available.

Ironically, the Orlando and St. Petersburg areas spend more federal funds per capita on pedestrian and bicycle facilities than any of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

STPP notes that between 1994 and 2003, pedestrian fatalities have declined by almost 13 percent, however, the percentage of people walking to work declined at an even greater rates.

Source: Report, “Mean Streets 2004,” Surface Transportation Policy Project, December 2, 2004.

For report:

For more on Urban Land Use:

”Sprout of the Day”

“The advancement of freedom is not a matter of who wields political power over creative actions; rather, it depends upon the disassembling of such power.”

– Leonard E. Read