High fees could be dissuading homeowners from erecting accessory - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

High fees could be dissuading homeowners from erecting accessory dwelling units

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Mike Town (Image: Hawaii News Now) Mike Town (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Image: Hawaii News Now Image: Hawaii News Now
George Atta (Image: Hawaii News Now) George Atta (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Image: Hawaii News Now Image: Hawaii News Now
KAIMUKI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Homeowner Mike Town says he's all for adding more affordable housing on Oahu.

That's why he decided to build an accessory dwelling unit on his property. He isn't so sure he would've gone forward, though, if he knew about the big fees the project would have.

Town paid a $6,500 for sewer connection fee, and a $2,000 for water connection fee. That's $8,500 in permits alone that are required for the six-figure accessory dwelling unit he's building.

"I swallowed hard and paid it," Town said. "I don't know what we would have done if we knew that upfront."

Accessory dwelling units were a signature part of the mayor's plan to address the dearth of affordable housing on Oahu. But some onlookers are questioning how many will actually put up ADUs, given the high fees.

City planning Director George Atta said the fees could be the reason fewer people are applying for ADUs than expected.

"That may not work for people who don't have the upfront cash of $8,000 or $9,000. Not everyone has that in their back pockets so it may be a barrier," he said.

The city wasn't able to say how many people applied for ADUs or how many were granted. (In January, just one person had been given the OK to start construction.)

But Atta said there's a bill going through the City Council that would reimburse homeowners for those fees.

"The way the bill is set up, we will waive the fees retroactively. So they can pay now and build it already," Atta said. "The reimbursement will take some time, but they will get reimbursed."

While the fees were high, Town said he has no regrets.

"I support the mayor's housing program," he said. "We need more housing and I want to do it legally. And as for me, as a retired judge, I don't want to cut corners."

Town, though, says he's hoping the council will approve the waiver because he says it's an unexpected extra cost that discourages the process.

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