Honolulu City Council takes aim at new regulations against monster homes

Updated: Jun. 20, 2020 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even after the city passed a law regulating monster homes last year, some say the problem still persists.

“It’s especially infuriating that during the pandemic, monster home builders are using this as an opportunity to rush projects through,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam of the HI Good Neighbor, which opposes monster homes.

“From Kailua to Kaimuki, to Liliha, even to Kamehameha Heights, this is a continual issue. Every time we try to tighten the rules, cheaters seem to find ways to get around them.”

He and others cite the homes at 1051 Kahili St. in Kailua’s Enchanted Lakes neighborhood. They said the massive two-building project is not only ugly but it’s built on a lot that only allows one home.

Neighbor have asked the owner -- Zhoujie Chen -- to stop building and comply with the rules but when he refused, one of them -- Chelsey Dawson -- sued.

“This building is definitely an eyesore,” said Tanya Misi, who lives next door but is not part of the suit.

“We’re a tight-knit community ... Many of us are fourth and fifth generations here if not longer. We feel this doesn’t belong here.”

City Councilmembers Tommy Waters and Ikaika Anderson, who inspected the home last week, agree.

They have introduced a measure that would make it a crime for anyone who builds a home that does not comply with the restrictive deed covenants.

That bill targets foreign investors, who have built a large number of monster homes in Hawaii.

“If these folks who are not U.S. citizens and they lie to the (Department of Planning and Permitting) and they build this house, they can get arrested, charged with a crime and then deported,” said Waters.

After a state judge ordered a temporary halt to construction last month, owner Chen said will comply with the deed covenants by connecting the two buildings, making it one home.

His attorney Greg Kugle said he his client is not the only owner in that Kailua neighborhood who has more than one home or building structure on their land.

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