Fellow Story

Scheuer quoted on failed legislative attempt to circumvent HI Land Use Commission

Editor’s note: Original reporting in two stories by the Honolulu Civil Beat: ‘Fox Watching The Henhouse’: Last Minute Tweaks To Land Use Bill Create A Stir’ and ‘Lawmakers Deep Six Legislation That Would Enable Counties To Redistrict Lands’.

Jonathan Likeke Scheuer was featured in two Honolulu Civil Beat stories describing a failed legislative attempt to circumvent Hawaii’s Land Use Commission (LUC). 

According to the Civil Beat, the draft legislation – House Bill 676 – would have empowered counties to make districting amendments for tracts of county-owned lands between 15 and 100 acres for affordable housing projects without LUC approval.

Scheuer told the Civil Beat that draft legislation intended to circumvent LUC powers are common, introduced at the Legislature every year and shot down due to public pushback. His main concern with the draft bill was that when the LUC is not involved, there is a potential for outside meddling.

“Developers can donate to the campaigns of county council members. They can’t donate to the Land Use Commission members,” Scheuer said. “Even if the land is owned by the county and it’s for affordable housing, it’s not that there’s no money to be made. … You’re really having the fox watch the henhouse here.” 

The bill was ultimately killed on the final day of the legislative session. Despite the surprising late-session move, Scheuer said it was the right thing to do. He hoped that the conversation would now move to a “much more productive place” that considered “actual barriers” to affordable housing rather targeting the LUC’s oversight.