Kaimuki residents: City isn’t doing enough to rein in monster home builder

Published: Dec. 28, 2019 at 8:16 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaimuki residents are up in arms about another monster home proposed in their neighborhood.

The city is still investigating but neighbors said it isn’t doing enough.

“This project and like projects are changing the face of the community," said longtime Kaimuki resident Ed Shimoda, who lives next door to the 18th Avenue property.

The owners want to build a $1.2 million home on most of their 7,500 square-foot lot. But to do that, they have to level the uneven property by filling it in with dirt -- lots of dirt.

City law requires a grading permit anytime you increase the height of your land by 3 feet or fill it in with 50 cubic yards of dirt. A check of records filed with the Department of Planning and Permitting shows no grading permit issued to the property.

“The DPP for whatever reason is either afraid or don’t find enough to enforce" its laws, said Shimoda.

The planning department said it’s still investigating but noted an initial inspection found that not enough dirt was used to require a permit.

Neighbors disagree. They said the owners have brought in a least four dump trucks full for dirt -- with each truck carrying about 20 cubic yards. They also showed photos where the land was filled in more than six feet.

The neighborhood controversy comes as a recent audit slammed the city for the way it handles zoning and permitting complaints about monster homes.

In particular, the report by the City Auditor said the DPP was dismissive of the concerns of neighbors who live next to monster homes.

“For far too long there has been lax enforcement, which has enabled these folks to get away with building things without permits and with disregard for our zoning laws," said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, of HI Good Neighbor.

DPP records show the owner and builder had been previously cited for building a retaining wall and fence without a permit at a townhouse complex in Kahala.

They also have been fined thousands of dollars for workplace safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

We reached out to the owner but didn’t get a response.

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