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City council members eyeing apartments masquerading as homes

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In Makiki, Nehoa Street is generally regarded as a dividing line between high density apartment zoning and single family residents.

But with all the new construction going on, some folks are starting to get worried.

Council member Carol Fukunaga represents Makiki and says the issue is on her radar.

Last week, Island News flagged two monster homes in her district in Kalihi.

”I was really shocked,” said Fukunaga.  

A home at 1918 Houghtailing has 29 bedrooms and 17 and a half bathrooms. The plans on file with the city have the structure configured as a two-family dwelling.

Another home on Kalihi Street is 20 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. Both structures have the same owners.

Fukunaga reached out to state lawmakers and found out they were getting complaints too.

Other massive developments are popping up in neighborhoods like Liliha, Alewa and Pacific Heights, areas with aging sewer water lines and substandard roads.

"If you suddenly have 10-20 cars that didn't exist there previously, it's a real concern. You can’t bring these apartment level operations in these older neighborhoods without a lot of disruption," Fukunaga said.

On top of that, many seniors are wring their hands worried they will soon be priced out their neighborhood by speculators interested in income-generating properties.

They fear they won’t be able to afford their property taxes.

"They get worried. They question, will the neighborhood get so expensive that I won’t be able to stay here?” said Fukunaga.

While some think the large homes are providing rental units faster than the city and state can develop them, City Council Chair Ron Menor thinks some property owners may be abusing the zoning code.

"This may be a loop hole and definitely, the council needs to look at this more carefully and thoroughly in the future,” said Menor.

Fukunaga thinks that this short-term fix for our housing crunch could have long- term consequences.

"You could have these large structures on hillsides or areas where it's clearly not appropriate, and after a while, who is responsible that everyone remains safe?" Fukunaga asked.

But short of an overhaul of the building code, council members are looking for a faster fix.

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