Jul 29, 2011

Honolulu: Removing Size Restrictions on Ohana Units does not increase # of units built

On Mar 15, 2006, the City and County of Honolulu removed the size limitations on Ohana Dwelling units. The intent was to encourage more people to build Ohana Dwelling Units.

However, the data suggests that deregulating Ohana Unit size, was not enough to stimulate greater production of Ohana Units, and that we need to ease the rules further.
Specifically, the number of Ohana Dwellings permits issued, as a % of new single-family dwelling permits issued per year, has not increased significantly, as hoped. Interestingly though, the average cost per Ohana Unit has increased steadily, suggesting that those few people who are building Ohana Units are taking advantage of the amendment and are building larger 2nd units.

In other words, unrestricting the size of Ohana Units has led to more quality, but not quantity, suggesting that the policy has not had its intended effect.

Furthermore, as the chart below shows, the # of Relocated structures is roughly equal to Ohana Units, which suggests that Ohana Units are an unpopular option. 

Relocated structures require extensive retrofits: structural sizing and anchoring, foundation, added insulation to the walls and roofs, and all mechanical and plumbing systems brought up to code. Yet people Relocate as many structures per year as create new Ohana Units.

[click chart to enlarge]

  1. http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-45214/182rxz_0.pdf
  2. http://www.honoluludpp.org/daily/calendaryear/yearly2009.pdf