In Kaimuki, residents worry monster homes are taking over the community

Updated: Jan. 24, 2021 at 5:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaimuki resident say the pandemic has not slowed down the construction of monster homes in their neighborhood. And they’re fighting back.

About two dozen resident protested the development of several of these massive, box-like homes today, saying they’re driving up property values, taking away street parking and blocking their views.

“Old Kaimuki is certainly changing but to build these huge apartment buildings here is frightening and simply disgusting,” said longtime resident Roy Imai.

City Council Chairman and monster home critic Tommy Waters added:

“This is what we’re fighting against. Look at this, you know this is all going to be cement,” said Waters, as he pointed to a duplex being build on 19th Avenue.

Sarah Chinen, who has lived in Kaimuki for 40 years, said a monster home that’s being built in front of her home will have about 15 rooms.

“It’s totally taken away any view of the ocean which I used to have... It’s affected property values.”

Neighbor Kim Smith added:

“We feel like an apartment is going to be built here with no parking.”

The residents said they oppose the latest construction project at 846 18th Avenue.

City permits show the owners plan to demolish the 93 year-old home and its swimming pool to make way for two, two-story homes.

Well-known arborist Heidi Bornhorsts worries that the home’s lush garden will also be demolished.

“This house (was built in) 1927 so the trees are at least that old, if not older. The Kukui tree in back is said to have been a gift from King Kalaukaua,” she said.

The owner said he has not yet decided to demolish the yard. He said the permits have already been approved by the city and that the homes will not be illegal monster homes.

But the neighbors aren’t buying that.

They said that that former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration didn’t do enough to curb the spread of monster homes in their community.

They’re hoping new Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s team will crack down on abuses.

“I hope the new administration will take enforcement seriously,” added Tyler Dos Santos-Tam of HI Good Neighbor, which opposes monster homes.

“I think there have been so many instances of bills passing but the department not taking the enforcement side seriously enough.”

Waters, meanwhile, has introduced several bills attacking the monster home problem, including measures to increase the setback requirements for homes and to lower the density limits for residential projects.

Another measure seeks to automatically cancel permits that are still under review for monster home developers who received their permits before 2018. That was the City Council first passed measures cracking down on these types of housing projects.

That bill will be heard by the full council on Wednesday.

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