Note — The paper below includes excerpted and lightly edited portions of a research project I wrote for a policy class in 2019 on Kaua’i’s Ordinance 860. While there are currently amendments to the housing ordinance before the Kaua’i County Council, I did not introduce the amendments, and to remain within the spirit of the Sunshine Law, I shouldn’t comment too specifically outside of a public meeting regarding my thoughts on the new bill. As of this writing (10/20), the current draft of the new housing ordinance exempts any development on land zoned R-10 or higher outside of the VDA…


Despite having had the biggest cumulative impact on the climate of any country in the world — we are now the first nation to officially begin withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. On a long list of terrible policies from the last three years, I think history will look at this as the worst. We’re already thirty years behind in taking action on the climate, we don’t have the luxury of continuing to twiddle our thumbs for another four years.

Because we’ve taken so long to get our act together, we are locked in for more than three…


It’s impossible to measure the true cost of our affordable housing crisis. What does it cost a child to grow up in a van parked in a dark corner of a Kaua’i beach park? How do you measure the pain of a family that’s been separated from their ancestral homeland because there’s nowhere for them to live? What does it do to the quality of our school system when rent is higher than teacher pay?

Just like the reading on a thermometer can’t communicate the pain of touching a hot stove, the cold precision of our housing statistics are meaningless…


I just had the fun school assignment to write a party platform for a fictional national level political party. As a candidate for county council, I recognize that 99% of what’s written here is far outside the scope of county government. And the large majority of it is still outside the scope of what is possible at a federal level given the current fractured state of our national politics. So — this is more of a wish list than an actual party platform. …


It was close to midnight and I couldn’t sleep. In the crib next to me lay my two month old daughter — blissfully unaware of the world that she was inheriting. In bed next to me lay my wife — her tears having long dried up, but their path down her cheek still visible.

I opened up my computer and wrote these words:

As I face into the dark abyss of defeat, I finally understand their anger. I am consumed by it.

I was shaking with a rage that I’d never felt before. How could we have done this? What…


A fifteen dollar minimum wage could lead to job losses. I support it anyway.

*Note — I wrote this for my Urban Planning and Social Policy Class. It wasn’t written for anyone other than my professor to read. If it reads like a term paper — that’s because it is a term paper. But, it helps illuminate why I think a $15 minimum wage is beneficial for Hawai’i — despite any empirical evidence.

Over the last few years, the fight for fifteen has caught on as a rallying cry for liberals across America. As they argue, inequality is rising, families…


The work of campaigning is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I’m much more comfortable reading a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research than I am waving signs on the side of the road or knocking on people’s doors. But, as I’m learning, part of running for office is to force yourself out of your comfort zone. For me, it’s all WAY out of my comfort zone.

As Barack Obama wrote in the Audacity of Hope, campaigns are “sometimes uplifting, occasionally harrowing, but always slightly ridiculous.” The reason we swallow our shame and jump through these hoops…


The hardest thing about running for county council isn’t the early morning sign waving or the late nights away from home — it’s having conversations with people who are struggling to survive life on Kaua’i and not being able to provide an immediate hopeful answer.

I just listened to a county employee tell me that their basic health insurance plan is eating away more than one third of their salary. …


In the fight against climate change, Kaua’i is simultaneously in first place and in last place.

Over the last ten years, KIUC skyrocketed Kaua’i from a 90% reliance on fossil fuels to 90% renewable energy on sunny days. And for that, we’re making national headlines.

But, over the same time period we‘ve increased the amount that we drive at a rate far higher than anywhere else in the country. The only state that matches Kaua’i’s increase in vehicle miles travelled is the rest of Hawai’i (at 10.8% …


Edit — this post was originally written in 2016, but was updated slightly in October 2020.

Last week The Garden Island Newspaper published an op-ed I wrote in support of most of the policies in the new Kaua’i General Plan update. The gist of the piece is that we are facing an affordable housing crisis (everyone agrees with that) and so to bring the cost of housing down we need to make it easier to build (some people agree with that) while doing more to minimize sprawl (some other people agree with that), and that’s why the direction set by…

Luke Evslin

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