Assisted-living issue
divides condo owners

A measure involving
One Kalakaua passes two
House committees

By Helen Altonn

A disputed Senate bill to allow the upscale senior condominium One Kalakaua to establish an assisted-living association within the project has cleared two House committees.

Legislature 2003

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However, the Health and Human Services committees delayed the effective date of the bill a year to July 2004.

Health Chairman Dennis Arakaki (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley) suggested the delay to ask the Health Department to analyze how licensing for assisted living should be granted to condominiums.

One Kalakaua is the only licensed assisted-living facility in Hawaii that is a fee-simple condominium project. While Senate Bill 1492 SD1 might resolve its problems, Arakaki said, "I'm not sure it would apply to future situations."

Rep. Mark Takai (D, Waimalu-Waiau-Newtown) said the major question is whether assisted-living services can be provided in the condominium by purchasing them as an option or including them as part of the project.

More than 50 One Kalakaua owners packed a hearing Thursday to support or decry the legislation, now going to the House Consumer Protection & Commerce and Finance committees.

Some condo owners sued the One Kalakaua association in April, alleging it was running an assisted-living facility without a state license. Others joined a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in July last year by former managing agent Hawaii First Inc. and its president, Richard Emery, asking the court to appoint a special master to take over.

A circuit judge ordered the condominium owners and the condo association into binding arbitration to resolve the financial and management dispute.

Proponents of the bill said One Kalakaua was developed as a condominium for independent seniors with a private vendor providing additional services to be paid separately.

However, the Department of Health provided a temporary license to the owners association as an assisted-living licensee, requiring the association to obtain insurance for assisted-living operations provided by a mainland corporation.

Corporation employees then became association employees with some company costs becoming the association's responsibility without approval of the owners or any change in One Kalakaua's declaration or bylaws, the bill's advocates testified.

Owners should not be asked to assume the liability and risks of an assisted-living facility without their agreement, said Pamela Wood, who owns an apartment in One Kalakaua with a brother and sister and their mother, Martha Black, who lives there.

Kathleen Norris, part-owner with her brother of a condo occupied by their mother at One Kalakaua, urged more study and consultation with the Health Department and "the majority of owners of One K who would be adversely affected by the passage of this bill as amended."

Hampton Carson, retired University of Hawaii genetics professor, and his wife, Meredith, said in written testimony that they bought an apartment at One Kalakaua with assurance they would have living assistance as they aged. They said the board "has administered a modest help system which seems to be working splendidly," and the bill should be derailed.

Attorney James Hochberg, who represents two plaintiffs in the civil action, supported the concept of the legislation "to the extent that it seeks to protect the condominium owners' property rights to determine for themselves whether to participate in a licensed assisted-living facility."

Only owners wishing to obtain assisted-living services should be responsible for the costs and liability of providing them, he said.

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