Councilwoman: Giant treehouse in Manoa is site of illegal 'retreat'

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Christmas Day accident at a Manoa treehouse is renewing calls by neighbors to investigate the landowner.

On Monday, emergency crews were called to the home on Woodlawn Terrace Place after they say an 18-year-old man fell 20 feet to the ground.

The man, who was taken to the hospital in serious condition, fell from a bridge connecting the home to the treehouse.

The owner, Daniel Susott, advertises this massive, seven-level treehouse as a "Biosphere Tree."

His website offers therapeutic retreats, charging as much as $8,900 for 28-day visits.

But according to city Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, there are no building permits for the treehouse and business activities like paid retreats or short-term rentals aren't allowed in that neighborhood.

"Living in a treehouse that's not permitted for renting, we can't have that," said Kobayashi.

Hawaii News Now tried to contact Susott on Tuesday, but he couldn't be reached.

In an archived news story posted on the retreat's website, Susott said that because the treehouse doesn't touch the ground it is out of the city's jurisdiction.

According to the city Department of Planning Permitting, Susott was cited back in 2006 for having five unrelated people living in the home.The department said that the violation was later corrected.

The DPP also said it has investigated neighbors' complaints about illegal occupancy in the tree house. But it said it found no such violations.

Kobayashi believes the city isn't doing enough to ensure that Susott isn't operating an illegal business.

"The neighbors are complaining because of the traffic and the noise. It's just unfair for this one property owner to disrupt the neighborhood that way," she said.

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