Presidential-sized parking problem turns residents against church

Nathaniel Ching
Nathaniel Ching
Don Hirata
Don Hirata

By Duane Shimogawa bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - A presidential-sized parking problem is turning some residents against a Manoa church.

The Honolulu Christian Church is trying to find more parking for its growing congregation. One of the options is turning property they own into a lot. but there's one catch, President Obama used to live there.

Nathaniel Ching is a longtime Manoa resident. He and his wife share a deep love for preserving this place. But that may be threatened. That's if a plan to build a parking lot next door comes to life.

"The heart of the opposition is that we're not preserving the character of Manoa, which is mainly a residential, green trees kind of community," Ching said.

Besides the traffic and safety issues, Ching says the property or at least the home should be preserved because it has a presidential connection.

This house in question question is where Obama lived during the mid-60s, for about three years with his grandparents and his mother.

Honolulu Christian Church leaders bought this property for just over a million dollars. At that time, they didn't know Obama had lived there. But they eventually found out.

"It was awesome, we thought, wow, eh, this is a God thing," Honolulu Christian Church administrator Don Hirata said.

But with the excitement, came the strong opposition. The church hopes for a compromise.

"We want to be one neighborhood, we want to have a good community relations with everyone, so it's pretty much our goal is to make everybody happy," Hirata said. "If they have a lot of misgivings about this, we invite them to come and talk with us and see what we can do."

One thing both agree on is that demolishing this special home is not an option. But what happens to the land around the home is still up for debate.

The church says they're currently in the permitting process. Meanwhile, the Manoa Neighborhood Board has asked the city's planning department to hold a public hearing on this issue before making a final decision.