As we pulled together the Aug. 28 cover story on West Oahu’s growing business community, I looked at population projections for Kapolei and Oahu for the next 20 years and pulled together the chart you see here.
The Hawaii state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, projects here that Oahu’s population will grow 9 percent over the next 20 years. Kapolei’s population, on the other hand, is expected to boom by 53 percent, according to City and County of Honolulu projections put out by The City of Kapolei.
But what does that translate into, in terms of Kapolei’s share of Oahu’s population? Not exactly a seismic shift. Kapolei is currently home to just under 11 percent of Oahu’s population. In 20 years, it will be home to just under 15 percent of Oahu’s population.
An argument can be made that development in Kapolei has favored housing over job creation. Some in Kapolei, as you can read in our cover story, are concerned that state government in particular has lost the momentum behind pushing government jobs to the West side.
At the same time, we’re in the midst of a housing crisis. Oahu short more than 12,000 housing units. Consequently, the median price of a single-family home on Oahu is currently a staggering $710,000.
Some “what ifs” leap to mind. What if there isn’t enough housing planned for Kapolei over the next 20 years? What if more, and more varied, housing alternatives were pursued? What if doing so could slow, if not halt, the rapidly escalating price of ordinary homes on Oahu? What if doing so could create more jobs in the area, both sooner (construction, planning, etc.) and later (area services, new business formation, etc.)? What if moving an even greater share of Oahu’s population to Kapolei increased the likelihood that our nearly $6-billion rail system would be used regularly?