HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2017
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
Section 1. The legislature finds that this State is in a homelessness and affordable housing crisis. The legislature further finds that the proportion of food that is imported into this State is undesirably high and that producing more food locally could benefit the State.
The increased use of agricultural land for housing is often perceived to conflict with the goal of increasing local food production. This may be true for important and more productive agricultural land with soils classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall productivity rating class A or B. However, given our housing crisis, the increased use of less agriculturally productive class C, D, and E land demands to be reevaluated.
While it has been proposed that the reclassification of lands from agricultural to rural might be one solution, this proposal has had only limited success and could potentially open a Pandora's box to other land uses. There is a desire to retain the rural character of larger lots and green vistas, but the increase in development density that is allowable under the rural classification, such as the creation of half-acre lots, may be undesirable.
Increasing housing density without decreasing the minimum agricultural lot size may be a solution that will increase the availability of affordable housing while retaining the rural character that Hawaii so highly values.
The cost of purchasing land, even marginal agricultural land, is quite high in the State. The per acre cost of making that land usable for agriculture may often be even higher. For example, land that had been used for pasture may have been invaded and taken over by the highly invasive tree known as Christmas Berry, or Schinus terebinthifolius. These trees may need to be removed by the expensive use of heavy machinery, the soil pushed aside, the underlying rock ripped, that ripped rock regraded, and the previously removed soil regraded.
The lack of agricultural income and the cost to purchase land and construct a house usually mandate employment of the owner off the farm. However, if attempts are made to engage in even minimal agriculture, the absence from the farm makes the farm susceptible to theft of agricultural produce, equipment, or household goods, or simply vandalism.
Allowing more housing on less-important agricultural land has many benefits. First, the construction of on-farm housing will provide construction jobs. The purchase of construction materials and tools and the furnishing of the house will result in greatly increased local business transactions. These transactions will produce increased excise and income tax revenue for the State. Second, income to the farm owner from the housing, if rented, will result in a substantial increase in the farmer's state income tax and provide revenue to the State. The increase in value of the property due to the additional housing units will result in substantially increased property taxes to the applicable county. If some of these units are rented for short-term agricultural tourism, there would be a significant increase in transient accommodations tax revenue.
Benefits to farm owners are also innumerable, but include the availability of more people on the farm, which could increase the availability of part-time farm labor assistance. The security of the farm will also be enhanced by the presence of more people. Furthermore, if the rental unit income is used to improve the agricultural characteristics of the land, its agricultural productivity will be increased. Making arable land available to occupants of each rented housing unit to use for a garden, orchard, or for animal husbandry, could provide on-farm food for those occupants. The increased availability of labor could facilitate the marketing of agricultural produce through an on-farm fruit and vegetable stand, which could also sell value-added products produced as a result of the increased agricultural activity. This more productive use of agricultural land and the potentially available labor could allow for building and operating the recently allowed activity of on-farm restaurants.
The number of additional dwelling units could be proportional to the acreage, with the upper limit of five dwelling units authorized on agricultural lots larger than ten acres. If maintaining rural vistas is paramount, then horticultural border plantings such as bamboo can maintain these scenic vistas along roadways while also providing privacy for the farm occupants.
The use of water catchments, solar power, battery power walls, wireless internet connections, and environmentally and agriculturally friendly composting waste water systems would make infrastructure requirements minimal. Given the limited on-farm traffic, paved driveway surfaces that could result in possible drainage problems would be discouraged, while grass, gravel, or water-permeable paving would be encouraged.
Because there would not be increased land costs, except minimal costs for site preparation, the cost of dwelling units, if simply constructed, can be kept to under $100 per square foot. Kit-type dwelling units with efficient pre-cut lumber, sheet siding of cement-based panels, and metal roofing to facilitate water catchment, could allow efficient cost control.
Many successful examples of a comprehensive approach to farm housing exist. On another island, Ireland, agriculture has been supported and enhanced by the on-farm presence of thousands of bed-and-breakfast accommodations and farm-stay units. Agricultural tourism and agricultural activity have been productively integrated and enhanced.
The purpose of this Act is to allow for increased housing capacity on non-prime agricultural lands.
SECTION 2. Section 205-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (d) to read as follows:
"(d) Agricultural districts shall include:
(1) Activities or uses as characterized by the cultivation of crops, crops for bioenergy, orchards, forage, and forestry;
(2) Farming activities or uses related to animal husbandry and game and fish propagation;
(3) Aquaculture, which means the production of aquatic plant and animal life within ponds and other bodies of water;
(4) Wind generated energy production for public, private, and commercial use;
(5) Biofuel production, as described in section 205‑4.5(a)(16), for public, private, and commercial use;
(6) Solar energy facilities; provided that:
(A) This paragraph shall apply only to land with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class B, C, D, or E; and
(B) Solar energy facilities placed within land with soil classified as overall productivity rating class B or C shall not occupy more than ten per cent of the acreage of the parcel, or twenty acres of land, whichever is lesser, unless a special use permit is granted pursuant to section 205-6;
(7) Bona fide agricultural services and uses that support the agricultural activities of the fee or leasehold owner of the property and accessory to any of the above activities, regardless of whether conducted on the same premises as the agricultural activities to which they are accessory, including farm dwellings as defined in section 205-4.5(a)(4), employee housing, farm buildings, mills, storage facilities, processing facilities, photovoltaic, biogas, and other small-scale renewable energy systems producing energy solely for use in the agricultural activities of the fee or leasehold owner of the property, agricultural-energy facilities as defined in section 205-4.5(a)(17), vehicle and equipment storage areas, and plantation community subdivisions as defined in section 205‑4.5(a)(12);
(8) Wind machines and wind farms;
(9) Small-scale meteorological, air quality, noise, and other scientific and environmental data collection and monitoring facilities occupying less than one-half acre of land; provided that these facilities shall not be used as or equipped for use as living quarters or dwellings;
(10) Agricultural parks;
(11) Agricultural tourism conducted on a working farm, or a farming operation as defined in section 165-2, for the enjoyment, education, or involvement of visitors; provided that the agricultural tourism activity is accessory and secondary to the principal agricultural use and does not interfere with surrounding farm operations; and provided further that this paragraph shall apply only to a county that has adopted ordinances regulating agricultural tourism under section 205-5;
(12) Agricultural tourism activities, including overnight accommodations of twenty-one days or less, for any one stay within a county; provided that this paragraph shall apply only to a county that includes at least three islands and has adopted ordinances regulating agricultural tourism activities pursuant to section 205-5; provided further that the agricultural tourism activities coexist with a bona fide agricultural activity. For the purposes of this paragraph, "bona fide agricultural activity" means a farming operation as defined in section 165-2;
(13) Open area recreational facilities;
(14) Geothermal resources exploration and geothermal resources development, as defined under section 182-1;
(15) Agricultural-based commercial operations, including:
(A) A roadside stand that is not an enclosed structure, owned and operated by a producer for the display and sale of agricultural products grown in Hawaii and value-added products that were produced using agricultural products grown in Hawaii;
(B) Retail activities in an enclosed structure owned and operated by a producer for the display and sale of agricultural products grown in Hawaii, value-added products that were produced using agricultural products grown in Hawaii, logo items related to the producer's agricultural operations, and other food items; and
(C) A retail food establishment owned and operated by a producer and permitted under title 11, chapter 12 of the rules of the department of health that prepares and serves food at retail using products grown in Hawaii and value-added products that were produced using agricultural products grown in Hawaii.
The owner of an agricultural-based commercial
operation shall certify, upon request of an officer or agent charged with
enforcement of this chapter under section 205-12, that the agricultural
products displayed or sold by the operation meet the requirements of this
(16) Hydroelectric facilities as described in section
(17) Multiple dwelling units on privately owned agricultural lots with soils classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class C, D, or E; provided that dwelling units authorized pursuant to this paragraph shall not be required to be accessory or appurtenant to agricultural activities; provided further that the number of dwelling units per lot shall be limited as follows:
(A) Not more than two dwelling units on a lot that is equal to or greater than one acre, but less than three acres;
(B) Not more than three dwelling units on a lot that is equal to or greater than three acres, but less than five acres;
(C) Not more than four dwelling units on a lot that is equal to or greater than five acres, but less than ten acres; and
(D) Not more than five dwelling units on a lot that is equal to or greater than ten acres;
provided further that this paragraph does not authorize dwelling units on important agricultural land or land with soils classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B, in excess of those authorized pursuant to section 205-4.5; provided further that notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the authorization of dwelling units under this paragraph shall not be subject to regulation by a county; and provided further that as used in this paragraph, "dwelling unit" means a structure or portion thereof used exclusively for residential occupancy and having all necessary facilities for permanent residency, including facilities for cooking, eating, living, sanitation, and sleeping.
Agricultural districts shall not include golf courses and golf driving ranges, except as provided in section 205-4.5(d). Agricultural districts include areas that are not used for, or that are not suited to, agricultural and ancillary activities by reason of topography, soils, and other related characteristics."
SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Agricultural Land; Housing; Authorized
Authorizes dwelling units on privately owned agricultural land with soils of overall productivity rating classes C, D, or E, subject to certain conditions. (HD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.