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Changing the ABCs of ADUs

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

 Last year, Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a law allowing homeowners to build accessory dwelling units. Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier fills us in on where things stand with the ADUs today.

When they were announced last year, accessory dwelling units were touted as a potential quick fix to help alleviate O‘ahu’s housing shortage.  At that time, Mayor Kirk Caldwell noted that the zoning law change would allow ADUs on as many as 20,000 residential properties.

Homeowners were expected to leap at the chance to build what would essentially be a small home on their yard that they could rent out.

That hasn’t happened.  Out of the 20,000 potential homeowners who could take advantage of the opportunity, only 70 have applied for building permits, and of these just seven have been approached so far.

The city has determined that cost, and the time it takes to get a permit, have been factor in the low response rate.  So the department of planning and permitting has drafted bill waving up to $10,000 worth of fees the city has been charging people who want to build an ADU.  These include sewer hook-up fees and park dedication fees, among others.  The department hopes the bill will be passed quickly, so that people start applying.  As written, the bill would waive these fees for the next two years.

The DP is also looking at what it can do with its internal processes to speed up the approvals. 

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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