During recent weeks, my colleagues and I have received complaints about rapidly-increasing numbers of large homes built in older, single and two-family home residential neighborhoods. This problem affects many older residential communities in Honolulu, which led to the Council’s recent adoption of Resolution 17-198, which urges the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) to modify its rules or ordinances to address the problem. As neighbors have expressed concerns about how ‘monster homes’ affect sewer capacity, on-street parking, neighborhood congestion and related issues, we were surprised that KITV news coverage struck a chord with many residents.
DPP’s listing of homes with 10 or more bedrooms and large numbers of bathrooms identified one property on Houghtailing Street with 28 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms. In Aiea, neighbors complained about a ‘monster home’ at 95-558 Ulune Street, which has replaced the original home (demolished last year) with a 3-story dwelling. This building reportedly blocks the view of residents who live above the property. In the Aiea Heights area, I have also received reports of illegal transient vacation units, which has been reported as a motive for the construction of ‘monster homes’ in other communities.
Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) staff have reported that building permits for the Aiea construction project was approved because it does not violate the City’s current building code. The current code does not restrict the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a residential structure, which has led to the increase of ‘monster homes’ in Kaimuki, Palolo Valley, Liliha, Pacific Heights, Pauoa Valley and Kalihi Valley.
As a follow-up to Resolution 17-198, Councilmember Ozawa introduced Resolution 17-276 last week; it amends Honolulu’s Land Use Ordinance by limiting the allowable number of bedrooms and wet bars in a dwelling. If the resolution and proposed bill is adopted by the Council, the amendment would be reviewed by DPP and the City Planning Commission before returning to the Council for introduction.
In the meantime, I have submitted requests for investigation (RISR) for the roughly 10+ properties that neighbors in Council District 6 complained about during the past two months; and will be seeking a temporary moratorium on the issuance of building permits for such structures if it appears that contractors and property owners are rushing to construct more ‘monster home’ structures before City planning agencies can propose modifications to existing laws.