City leaders consider criminal charges for monster home violators

Updated: Jun. 27, 2018 at 8:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City leaders are now considering criminal charges for monster home builders who defy the law.

The discussion comes after a countywide crackdown on builders working without permits or licenses.

"They're flaunting the fact that they can continue to build, build what they want, and disregard the laws that already exists," said Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin.

There is a law already on the books that would allow criminal charges against those who violate Honolulu's building code. However, it has not been enforced in about 30 years, according to the city.

Martin said he met with prosecutors this week and asked them to investigate a home on Hala Street slated to have 23 bedrooms, and a home off Pali Highway. He said the contractor for the home off the Pali had no building permit and was issued a stop work order.

"I think we need to be more assertive in dealing with these unfortunate practitioners of building monster homes because it seems like they're laughing in our face," said Martin.

Gayle Nakama, Kalihi resident, agrees that the city needs to stop being so lenient in enforcement.

"We have effective rules. We can bring criminal charges against these people. However, the city is not doing their job," said Nakama.

"People that just come in and think that they can build whatever they want, when they want, and screw everybody else. That's not the way Hawaii is, and if we don't take a stand today, this is going to be happening all over Oahu."

Under a law already on the books, building code violators can be fined $2,000 and face one year behind bars.

Martin says prosecutors are "ready and willing." He said his next step is meeting with the Honolulu Police Department.

"The department has to be willing to build that case against these developers or contractors who have been engaging in this embarrassment," said Martin.

Martin and the city Department of Planning and Permitting said they are still working out the logistics of when exactly criminal charges should be pursued.

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