City, state nuisance bills look to help with nightmare neighbors

Councilmember Stanley Chang pushes for stiffer penalties

Published  6:43 PM HST Feb 13, 2013
House
HONOLULU -

A high-profile case in Kahala that has pit neighbors against a Japanese billionaire has prompted new legislation.

On Wednesday, Japanese tycoon Genshiro Kawamoto worked on the front yard of a home on the Mauka side of Kahala Avenue, what he says will be his piano hall.

Flowers and statues replace a broken wall on one of his many homes that have languished for years.

The city said as of last week, Kawamoto has one outstanding violation for overgrowth, along with a $2,000 fine.

 The area councilman has introduced a bill to deal with chronic neighborhood blight.

"We received complaints from all over the district and also from all over the island about properties that were blighted with weeds and other garbage that wasn’t disposed of. This bill would stiffen the penalties to encourage compliance," said Stanley Chang, whose district stretches from Waikiki to Hawaii Kai.

Chang calls for raising the fines from $1,000 a day to $5,000 a day.

The bill, he said will work hand in hand with a state nuisance bill that would give neighbors the right to sue if their property values drop because of outstanding violations.

 Kawamoto's latest problems with neighbors center around generator noise at one of the three homes he has allowed needy families to move into rent-free.

Neighbors say the home has had  power for months.

"I am helping them put in an electrical box.  No money,” said Kawamoto.

And when pressed about neighbors who have been complaining that police have been called there for fights, Kawamoto nodded, “I know, I know."

As for the state of his gardens along Kahala Avenue, Kawamoto says they are 50 percent complete.  He hinted that maybe in three months he would invite local media for a tour.

He thinks most of neighbors approve of his efforts to clean up the broken structures, and he did clear up misconceptions about his plans for a museum at the site.

"It’s my personal museum.  Not public.  No, not public,” Kawamoto said.

Given Kawamoto's history, residents are wary.

"I don’t think what he has done is good for the community or the neighborhood," said Chang.

Chang’s nuisance bill gets its first hearing at a council zoning committee meeting on Thursday.

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