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1,000 Homes per Acre: Planning for Sustainable Housing Growth in Hawaii

August 12, 2021

Presented by Senator Stanley Chang




Support more housing?

Oppose luxury homes, vacation rentals, traffic, and paving over farmland and conservation land?
The answer is building 1,000 Homes per Acre.


This conference seeks to explore the possibilities raised by very high density housing construction as a solution to Hawaii’s severe, generations-long housing shortage.  We will learn about real world experiences in high density housing development.  Our program tentatively includes the following topics, presented by experts from around the world:


  • 500 units per acre in Vancouver’s indigenous-owned Senakw development

  • Lessons from the world’s densest city, Hong Kong

  • The role of place attachment psychology in preventing densification of urban environments

  • The pitfalls of too much open space in urban settings

  • Visualizing what various levels of density look like

  • The consequences of planning cities for cars, not pedestrians







Why are we organizing this conference?


Hawaii has a severe, decades-long housing shortage.  The main problem is a lack of supply.  On average, about 11,000 students will graduate from DOE high schools this year--not even including private schools.  Only about 2,000 homes will be built.  It doesn’t matter if all 11,000 are billionaires; the housing simply does not exist.  Even if not a single wealthy overseas investor, Airbnb vacation renter, or homeless person on a one-way ticket ever came to Hawaii again, we would not have enough housing for future generations of our own local people.


If the problem is as simple as just building more, why hasn’t it happened?  Because building more is perhaps the single most controversial political issue in Hawaii.  We’ve heard all the concerns before: traffic, noise, crime, Hawaii’s unique “sense of place,” the environment, lack of infrastructure, loss of good farmland or pristine natural environments, and blocked views, to name a few.  Hawaii’s heavy level of land use regulation is a product of these concerns.  While some products do come to fruition, it’s nowhere close to the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of units that Hawaii needs to actually end the housing shortage.


The good news is, we can achieve large scale new housing construction while meeting the objections: very high density.  By identifying existing parcels near rail stations and redeveloping them with very high density, we can produce enough homes to move the needle while avoiding most of the drawbacks to new development.


  • Residents of high density homes will live within a five minute walk to every necessary service, including public transportation and schools, which means that they will no longer need or want to drive cars.

  • High density towers can be built for far less per square foot than one off projects, which means they can be sold for prices most people can afford.

  • Not one inch of agricultural, conservation, or otherwise undeveloped land will ever be paved over.

  • Low cost homes will be available to all who want them.  Current homebuilding is like private school: expensive and only available to the few.  We can create public school for housing: a low cost, plentiful alternative available to all.

  • Redeveloping a small number of sites at very high density can ensure that existing landscapes and neighborhoods will remain undisrupted, minimizing impact to existing residents and their descendants.


Register Now


Register for our conference now here.  Sessions will take place throughout the day on Thursday, August 12, 2021.  The conference will take place entirely on Zoom.  Further details, including speaker names and presentation titles, will be released as they are finalized.




Contact Lynn Robinson-Onderko at or 808-586-8420.



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