In a recent newsletter from the Hawaii Association of Realtors, I learned about a new law that will make it difficult, if not functionally impossible to make any changes to what are now considered “historic” properties. Effective July 8, 2008, a new law went into effect that requires older properties (structures over 50 years old) to get a clearance from the Hawaii State Historical Preservation Division (HSPD), which is part of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).
Currently, there are 1,458 homes (49 active listings) on Kauai and 2,434 on the Big Island that fall into this category (data from tax records on MLS). According to HAR, there are also approximately 50,000 buildings on Oahu that are affected. Since DLNR is a State agency, who knows how much backlog there will be with serving all the islands
Many of these homes are “grandfathered”, meaning based on current guidelines, they couldn’t be built. So any work on the home has to maintain the current “footprint” – no add-ons, etc.
Our County Planning Department already has a huge backlog due to last year’s ADU law change, and this year’s Vacation Rental Ordinance. Now, County permits for renovation, repair or demolition cannot be issued on these older homes without first getting sign-off from the Hawaii State Historical Preservation Division (SHPD). Applicants are required to follow SHPD guidelines to document the structure with archival quality black & white photographs as a precondition to clearance. County permitting departments cannot issue any permits without this.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is currently backlogged with requests, but is adding staff.
For more information visit the website for Kauai County.