Mounting city fines don’t deter owner building monster home on steroids

Updated: Apr. 28, 2019 at 8:21 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has fined the owner of a Kalihi monster home more than $124,000 after he ignored orders to stop building a year and a half ago.

The owner of the six-story, 20-bedroom home at 1909 Kalihi St. continues to do work on the home on a separate city permit issued last September.

"This is an example of a builder that does not care about our values ... that could just care less about the effects on their neighbors.” said City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine.

Pine has spearheaded several bills cracking down on monster homes. She and area residents say this is one of the worst they’ve seen.

“It’s an eyesore basically. For us, we don’t mind people living here but not the extent of that," said longtime Kalihi resident Pacifico Ordonio, who lives two doors down.

The owner, Wen Ping Weng, denied wrongdoing. He said other homes in his neighborhood are bigger.

The recent influx of monster homes has prompted a backlash in the community as lawmakers have pushed for tougher penalties and stricter regulations.

Many complain that monster homes and their occupants take up valuable on-street parking and that some owners rent out rooms out illegally to tourists.

The home at 1909 Kalihi St. is among those caught up in the backlash.

In November 2017, the city began fining the owner $300 a day and ordered him to stop the non-permitted construction activity. Since then, he’s racked up more than $124,000 dollars in fines.

But despite the stop-work order, the owner continues to work on his home.

Tyler Dos Santos Tam, of HI Good Neighbor, an advocacy group opposed to monster homes, said the owner is allowed to conduct some construction — about $130,000 worth — so long as only he does the work himself and isn’t using a contractor.

But when Hawaii News Now visited the home Saturday, it looked like Weng was getting significant amount of professional help.

“The fact that they continue to work even though they’ve had a stop work order for nearly a year and a half is simply absurd," said Dos Santos Tam.

“If people are going to be disregarding the rules, I think the rules need to have some teeth to stop them.”

Meanwhile, Pine said a bill — approved by the City Council and awaiting the mayor’s signature — will make it even harder for people to build monster homes like this.

“We urge the mayor to please sign it as soon as possible so we can tear this house down," Pine said.

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