More applications, few approvals for accessory dwelling units

Local News

It’s no surprise that it is hard to find affordable housing on Oahu.

That is why Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the Accessory Dwelling Unit Law in September 2015.

It allows people to build additional rental units on their property.

“The purpose was to allow for more affordable rental housing on Oahu,” said Art Challacomb who is the Department of Planning and Permitting deputy director.

But there were some issues when many of the applicants were not getting approved in a timely manner.

“DPP personnel where getting one too many bites at the apple so to speak,” said Honolulu City Councilmember Ikaika Anderson.

In other words the process was not working efficiently.

Anderson says there were too many steps and too many people reviewing one application.

“The department director has been reporting to the committee on zoning and planning now since January on that backlog and they have made significant strides,” said Anderson.

When KHON2 checked last month, the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting had 41 ADU building permit applications on backlog.

Only five permits were approved.

A month later, DPP approved two additional ADU permits for a total of seven since September, but it now has 70 applications to review.

So the backlog is still there, but now with hopes to draw in more applicants.

The city is looking to a bill that would waive application fees and save applicants up to $10,000.

“This bill will incentivize property owners to build ADU’s by allowing waivers of building permit, grading permit , sewer connection fees and permanent deletion of park dedication fees,” said Challacomb.

Now with the possibility of more people applying and the already backed up system, is the department ready for more applications?

“We have dedicated one position solely to ADU applications so we think we can handle the backlog,” said Challacomb.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell hopes that the temporary fee waiver will encourage homeowners who are considering adding a second unit on their property, or converting part of an existing structure, to act now.

The mayor is also challenging contractors and designers to come up with cost-effective designs and help owners take advantage of these time-limited incentives which would be available for two years.

Homeowners who applied for an ADU permit and have already paid the fees will be refunded the fees should this measure be approved and signed into law.

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