Some say monster homes bringing monster problems
Monster homes can bring monster problems.
HONOLULU - When residents moved into a 9th avenue residence, they brought a fleet of limousines with them.
"When the owner and tenants moved in, so did their five limousines, their commercial SUV's on property and three on the street. The workers come and go all day all long, smoking outside and using the house as a dispatch center and using the driveway to maintain their vehicles," Reyna Sueoka, a Palolo resident said.
Sueoka shared her nightmare with the City Zoning Committee. She said the problems started years ago with the construction crew.
"One day, a retaining wall collapsed on a worker and he was hospitalized. A few months later, the concrete pump exploded all over our car, our house and in our yard and when I confronted the workers, they couldn't speak English," Sueoka said.
The original owners flipped the 17-bedroom home and Sueoka said they are now building other monsters in the valley.
"There are a handful of contractors that go from neighborhood to neighborhood, and build these monster homes. They have been hit with safety violations, workers comp violations, that not not only are detrimental to workers but the community at large," Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Hawaii Construction Alliance said.
Council members have proposed everything from a moratorium to added reviews and even limiting the number of bedrooms.
The city's planning director thinks it might be better to regulate by square footage, which could fall in line with fire code.
"We could say we will not process anything larger than 3,600 square feet. That number would be based on the fire code, which elevates the fire protection protection requirements," Kathy Sokugawa, planning director said.
Those who testified against the crackdown, say the monster home story is about immigrants pooling their cash to buy homes and at the same time generate income.
"This way relieves the housing burden to the city. You maximize the use of the land. Instead of 7,000 square feet with only four people. Now, you have more people on the land. This is how it is, and there will be more people doing it," Jimmy Wu, a Proworks Architect said.
Others say if it's really for families, fine. But if not...
"It is maybe in some cases, where it's truly for their family. If so, I think they shouldn't be allowed to sell it for five years. If they flip it right away, then that's BS and they should be accountable," Sarah Chinen, a Kaimuki resident said.
The fear is that speculators will simply rush to tear down and build as many money-making monster homes as possible before the city can enact any laws.
"That building contractor I mentioned has 15 this year. That's more than one a month. There's anther one that neighbors are looking at in St. Louis Heights, that contractor has ten building permits just this year," Dos Santos-Tam said.
Bad builders, monster homes and no fast fix has some say, a scary combination.