What's the law?
Zoning controls building on property
Can a homeowner tear down an old house and build two fully functioning houses on the property? My uncle wants to build two homes on his property but was told that the second house cannot have a kitchen. Is that true?
Answer: From Robert Kekuna, Legal Aid intake attorney: Questions about what one can build on one's property are sometimes difficult to answer because there are a number of laws that apply. For example, the State Land Use Law categorizes all land as urban, agriculture, rural and conservation -- and defines what one can do within each category of land.
In addition, each county has zoning laws which define what one can build on a property. How one's property is zoned affects how many structures may be built on a property, how many kitchens may be built on the property, etc. In Maui County, for example, the law does allow construction of an ohana unit, with all the amenities of a standard home, in certain zoning categories. The homeowner could also be subject to county laws that might restrict the building of additional units on one's property -- especially in the Upcountry area. Since zoning laws are subject to change, the homeowner should consult with his county planning department to determine how the zoning and building codes would affect the construction of two new homes. A licensed building contractor can also provide advice on these matters.
Q: My father lives on Kauai and needs some help with his Social Security; they claim they have overpaid him benefits. Do you have an office on Kauai with drop-in hours?
A: Legal Aid has nine offices in Hawaii: Honolulu, Waianae and Kaneohe on Oahu; Kailua-Kona and Hilo on the Big Island; Wailuku on Maui; Kaunakakai, Molokai; Lanai City, Lanai; and Lihue, Kauai. Both the Honolulu and Lihue offices have a Center for Equal Justice (a self-help center for civil legal needs). Please visit our Web site for the exact locations and phone numbers for each of the offices, as well as hours of operation: www.legalaidhawaii.org.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to email@example.com
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.