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Honolulu ADU 2016 Update

May 02, 2017

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Status Update
Questor Lau, AIA

Per data provided by the City and County of Honolulu, the first Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) permit
issued was in January 2016 to convert an existing Ohana Unit in Kaimuki into an ADU, allowing the unit
to be legally rented to non-relatives. Although ADUs were first allowed in September 2015, no ADU
permits were issued that year. In the first nine months since the ADU ordinance passed, only nine ADU
permits were issued. Dismal. Seeing the results, the City Council passed another bill 1 to waive building
permit and sewer connection fees for new ADUs.

HOW MANY: In total, there were 100 new ADUs permitted in 2016, based on data provided by the City.
All ADUs were mapped to identify which City Council District had the most and least ADUs (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Spatial distribution of the 100 new ADUs
created in Honolulu (2016).

WHERE: Ikaika Anderson's district tops the list; almost 1 out of every 3 ADUs created in 2016 was in
Kailua. Specifically, building permit data shows that 29 ADUs were permitted in Kailua, 2 in Waimanalo,
and 5 in Kaneohe. Trevor Ozawa's district of Hawaii Kai ranked second with 20% of all ADUs. Perhaps a
surprise, Brandon Elefante's district that includes Pearl City and Waipahu, had the 3rd lowest rate, adding
just 4 new ADUs. At the bottom of the list: Ron Menor's district that includes Kapolei and Mililani, did
not have any ADUs (Figures 1 and 2).

1
Ordinance 15-41 allowing ADUs, 9/14/2015. Ordinance 16-19 waived certain fees for ADUs, 7/21/2016.

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Honolulu ADU 2016 Update
May 02, 2017

More ADU permits were issued
after the fee waiver went into
effect on 7/21/2016 – see
dashed orange line in Figure 3.

Work included in these 100 ADU
permits will contribute an
estimated $10.5M of
construction work to Honolulu,
not including one-time permit
fees or ongoing GE Taxes on
rental income, property taxes
and utility charges. As of
12/31/2016, construction work
on 16 ADUs had been completed
and their permits closed. Figure 2: New ADUs permitted in 2016, by City Council District.

WAIT TIMES:
Median 2 permit
processing time
(from application to 37 ADUs 63 ADUs
permit issuance) for
all 100 ADU permits Fees Waived
was 120 calendar (eff 7/21/2016)
days. #ofADU
ADUPermits
Permitsin in
2016
2016
16

The 7 design 14 15

professionals 3 12
12
13

associated with the 10 12 11
# of Permits

10
highest number of 8
8
ADUs in 2016 are 6
7
ranked in Table 1. 4 4
4
Each produced more 2 3
1
than 3 ADUs each. 0
July

September
June

December
April

May

August
February

November
January

October
March

Of these
professionals with
# New ADU Permits
the highest number
of ADU permits, 43% Figure 3: The number of ADU permits increased after fees were waived (dashed orange line).
(3 out of 7) had
median processing times that exceeded median time to get an ADU permit (120 calendar days) – red
numbers in Table 1. This suggests that incomplete submittals are not what delays permit processing;
even experienced professionals have above average permit processing times.

2
Median: 50% of permits took longer and 50% had shorter processing time than the median value.
3
For smaller projects, while a design professional may be involved, it may not have been documented in the
permit record, since a design professional is not required to assume responsibility for small projects, like ADUs.

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Honolulu ADU 2016 Update
May 02, 2017

Table 1: Design Professionals Ranked by # of ADUs Produced 4
Median Total
#ADU
Rank Plan Maker Calendar Days Construction
Permits
to Permit Value 5 ($)
1 Yee, Xiang 101 10 1,497,000
2 ACZON, Eliezer Y. 92 5 647,000
3 Nago, Brad T. 126 5 743,000
4 Yamamoto, Ronald A. 73 5 1,537,000
5 QUINN, GREGORY A. 102 4 273,000
6 Noda, Roy A. 167 3 285,000
7 STRUCTURAL HAWAII INC 144 3 224,500
… (others – not shown) 125 65 5,314,950
10,521,450

Based on remarks by Art
Challacombe, the Department of
Planning and Permitting (DPP) is
trying to expedite ADU permits.
City data shows that the median
time for new single- and two-
family dwelling (SFD/TFD) permits
was 143 calendar days in 2016,
while ADUs typically took 120
calendar days. But realistically, 30
days should be added to review
time to account for the initial ADU
precheck form (required before
applying for an ADU), which brings Figure 4: In 2016, the median time for an ADU permit was 120 days, while
the total median ADU permit time new single- and two-family dwellings were typically issued in 143 days.
to about 150 days. One reason
ADU and new SFD/TFD permits take about the same time may be that ADU permits often include other
work – additions or alterations that trigger similar regulatory review requirements as new SFD/TFD
permits (i.e., Both ADUs and SFD/TFD plans typically must be approved by the Building Code examiner,
Board of Water, and Wastewater).

NEXT STEPS: As permit data is readily available to at least 2005, it can be used to identify patterns in
urban growth. Do large developers get their permits faster than individual homeowners? How much do
permit delays cost the average homeowner? How has ePlans (electronic filing system) affected permit
issuance times?

Regardless of who or what is causing the delay in building permit issuance, homeowners thinking about
installing an ADU should act before ADU fee waivers expire in 6/20/2018.

4
Data provided by the City and County of Honolulu.
5
Construction valuation, as reported on the permit application. Likely includes additional work besides the ADU.

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