Bill Would Block Foreigner Buying Land In Hawaii

( – Hawaii, a state reputed for its allure to sun-seekers and surfers, confronts a significant challenge – a housing crisis partly fueled by foreign investment. In a bold move, Republican state Sen. Brenton Awa has introduced legislation to curb land purchases by “foreign principals,” intending to alleviate affordability woes for local residents.

Awa explained to KHON-TV that they had observed home prices jumping up $400,000 within a year, attributing the surge to people from outside coming in with cash. He argued that the influx of foreign buyers, often with deep pockets, was outbidding locals struggling with stagnant wages, effectively locking them out of the market.

The proposed bill addresses this by requiring buyers to submit affidavits under penalty of perjury, declaring they are not “foreign principals” – individuals residing abroad and lacking US citizenship or permanent residency. This measure aims to create a barrier to foreign investment, potentially slowing down the rapid price increases and freeing up land for local buyers.

However, the issue extends beyond affordability alone. Hawaii residents have long voiced concerns about the impact of tourism and luxury development on their communities. The proliferation of vacation rentals and opulent resorts, while boosting the economy, has come at the expense of available housing for residents. This sentiment is amplified by the state’s astronomical housing costs, which are 2.5 times higher than the national average, as the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization reported.

The problem was further intensified by the devastating Maui wildfires in August 2023, which destroyed thousands of buildings, including affordable housing units, leaving many displaced and vulnerable.

While Awa’s bill sparks hope for some, concerns linger. State Attorney General Anne Lopez has questioned its “constitutionality and legality,” highlighting the potential for legal challenges. Moreover, some argue that such restrictions could negatively impact the state’s tourism industry, a major economic driver.

On the other hand, Governor Josh Green’s emergency proclamation to expedite the construction of tiny village communities for the homeless offers a glimpse into the situation’s urgency.

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