Honolulu mayor OKs temporary ban on 'monster' houses

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has approved a temporary ban of up to two years on building permits for "monster" houses, giving the city Department of Planning and Permitting time to come up with permanent rules.

"How do we preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods but also meet the growing demands for more affordable housing on this island, which becomes less and less affordable every year?" Caldwell told reporters Tuesday.

The department will not approve building permit applications during the moratorium for houses that cover more than seven-tenths of a lot. But the ordinance allows the department to consider exceptions for larger dwellings if they meet a very specific set of requirements.

Kathy Sokugawa, the department's acting director, said she expects to have a draft set of rules sent to the City Council by the end of the year.

The bill, introduced by Councilman Ikaika Anderson, was prompted by concerns by residents of older Oahu neighborhoods who are troubled that their communities are being inundated by buildings so large that they are out of character with their neighborhoods. They also argue that the houses overtax sewer and water lines, drainage ways, parking and other infrastructure.

There's also concern that the homes are being used as illegal apartments, boarding houses or vacation rentals, or for other non-permitted businesses.

Opponents of a moratorium have argued the restrictions are too onerous and could affect construction of less obtrusive houses as Oahu endures a housing shortage.