People who build homes, whether families or companies, also face high labor costs because Hawaii is heavily unionized, it is costly to ship building materials such as steel to the islands, and building necessary infrastructure like sewers and roads to facilitate housing development also add to the bottom line.
But Brewbaker contends that the cost of moving materials to the islands is the least influential factor in driving up the cost of homes, with the regulatory environment for construction being the primary cost-driver. It is also something that, he says, could be changed.
Just yesterday I learned about the Jones Act of 1920. One of the key provisions is that a foreign built or foreign flagged vessel cannot engage in coastwise trade within the United States. That means a foreign vessel cannot trade at one port in the US, and then another without going elsewhere in between.
As a result ships from China cannot stop by Hawaii on their way to the continental US. Thus, most foreign goods arriving in Hawaii must first be unloaded on the mainland, then shipped back westward to Hawaii. I have to imagine that making an exception for Hawaii would significantly reduce the costs of a number of products.
I wonder if Hawaii (or Alaska) has lobbied for such an exception, and if not, why.