Kauai building rules confuse
Some owners face a ban on building additional homes
LIHUE » Owners of small agricultural and open-zoned plots on Kauai have until Dec. 31 if they want to build additional homes on their land. But many are confused about the rules.
While additional dwelling units are permitted in perpetuity statewide on residential lands, Kauai's ordinance will allow additional homes on nonresidential land only until the end of the year.
Kilauea resident Jeff Goodman said he bought his property -- which qualifies for a home and an additional dwelling unit -- so each of his sons could have a plot for a home. Now he worries that time may be running out.
"I've been very diligent. What free time I have, I've spent on this project, and I feel like it's escaping me," he said.
Some landowners are confused as to what qualifies them to protect their right to the additional home by the deadline, whether obtaining a zoning permit is enough or whether one needs to have construction already started or even completed.
"There seems to be no clear administrative rules to outline the process which will determine whether or not a landowner has 'vested' a right to build an (additional dwelling unit) on a qualified lot," according to a letter to the County Council from the Kauai Board of Realtors, which prefers an extension of between five to 10 years.
While the Council also has proposed a 10-year extension on the measure, the proposal hasn't earned strong support.
"We're having a lot of problems with infrastructure right now. I think people have had ample notice when this is going to be ending," said Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, a council member.
About 400 agricultural and open lots have received zoning permits for the additional homes since 1989.
An additional 500 to 700 parcels could still qualify for them, said Rick Shaw, president of Kauai Board of Realtors.
In some cases, owners are holding onto the plots to build housing for their children or to divide the parcels off as separate building lots.
But if the buyers of the separate lots don't meet the deadline, they could face the possibility of never being able to build any home on their lot.
"Realtors may not have been fully informing people," Iseri-Carvalho said.
Shaw said landowners may not have kept track of the timing and the deadlines may not have been fully discussed with buyers when those deadlines were a long way off.
The Kauai Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing next Tuesday on the issue of extending the deadline.
After the hearing, the commission will make its recommendation to the Council.