The fix to illegal monster homes? Councilman says tear them down

Lawmakers considering bill that would crack down on illegal monster homes
Published: May. 1, 2018 at 10:11 PM HST|Updated: May. 2, 2018 at 5:20 AM HST
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(Image: Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
(Image: Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City Councilmember Ikaika Anderson is spearheading a measure to crack down on illegal monster homes.

Bill 33 would allow the city to demolish homes built without the proper city permits. Anderson said it's a problem that plaguing neighborhoods from Kalihi to Kaimuki.

Anderson's Planning Committee held an informational briefing on Bill 33 on Tuesday. The Zoning Committee so far has opted not to hear the bill but Anderson hopes the committee will take up the issue again.

"That is a willful, intentional, and flagrant violation of the law where these violators flip the finger at their entire community and say, 'I don't care about the laws of the City and County of Honolulu," said Anderson.

"If I were mayor, under an Ikaika Anderson Administration, I would have torn that structure down yesterday."

Anderson was specifically referring to homes on Date Street in Moiliili and on Lilipuna Street in Kaneohe,

The Kaneohe home has accrued more than $400,000 in fines for building without proper permits while the owner of the Date Street structure, which also lacks proper permits, faces fines of more than $47,000.

"These monster homes are too much. I've seen my entire neighborhood ... destroyed," said Kaimuki resident Trisha Watson.

Builders say the extra-large structures help address the housing shortage. But Anderson and other lawmakers aren't buying that argument.

Right now, the city can fine homeowners but many just ignore the fines, hoping the city will settle for a lesser amount, which often happens if the violations are corrected.

The city said it does have the legal authority to take down structures but that power is rarely invoked. Anderson said he wants to clarify the law so that the city can more readily challenge homeowners who flagrantly build without permits.

Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested the city should go after professionals who design and build without permits.

"I hope the city will suspend or void the licenses of contractors and the architect and others who are doing this. They know what they're doing," he said.

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