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Kaua‘i fastest-growing county in state

LIHU‘E — In a download of U.S. Census Bureau new data released earlier this month, it was revealed Kaua‘i is the fastest-growing county in Hawai‘i at about 9.2%, which is slightly below what county planners had predicted.

Kaua‘i’s population growth according to some data from the 2020 Census shows there are 73,298 residents, an increase of 6,207 residents over the last decade. That falls just shy of the 74,693 that was predicted during the county’s 2018 General Plan update.

Marie Williams, a long-range planner with the county Planning Department, recently explained that this is actually an indication that population growth isn’t happening as fast it may appear.

“Our overall growth rate is starting to slow down,” Williams said. “Between 2000 and 2010, we added about 8,600 people, and that was population growth, in terms of percentage, of 15%. So 9% might seem big, but if you look at the trends, we’re actually starting to slow down. That’s probably a reassuring thing for a lot of people.”

Between 2000 and 2010, the county grew from 58,463 residents to 67,091, according to the county’s General Plan. It was projected that, by 2035, the county would grow to about 88,000 residents, representing a one percent growth per year between 2015 and 2035.

The county uses data like natural increases and decreases, including births and deaths as well as migration rates.

“We’re about 1,500 people below the projections shown, but at the same time a projection isn’t meant to stay in place for a long time,” Williams said. “What we’re going to do is use this census release and upcoming full package to update our projections.”

As more data is released, the county will have better access to where exactly growth is concentrated between towns.

“Then, digging even deeper, we can look at the census block groups so we can figure out where these changes are occurring on the ground,” Williams said.

Of particular interest to Williams is the average-person-per-household figure.

“That number has been increasing, and what that means is that when there are more people per household, it kind of indicates there’s a housing-crowding problem going on,” Williams said.

On Kaua‘i, the median housing price hit $1.3 million in July, a new high. More affordable workforce housing is on the mind of the county.

“Development of affordable housing is a big priority of the county. It’s a big priority in the General Plan, too,” Williams said. “But, I think understanding what’s happening with individual households can help us readjust our plans if need be, relook if there are any zoning changes that have to occur. It could help us support and develop more affordable-housing projects.”

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Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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