Historic review of tract home holds up sale

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Aug 06 2013 06:00:00 PM HST

There's a major backlog brewing for thousands of Oahu residents whose homes are fifty years or older.

HONOLULU -

Guy and Elma Ibalei have been in their new "old" home for about a month and a half.

They had been trying to buy the house since before Christmas, but the deal didn't close until this summer.

"We didn’t think it was going to take this long. It was a definite roller coaster ride for us, up and down. It was a very,very trying time for us," said Guy Ibalei.

A construction permit to replace a termite-eaten beam in the Waipio tract home was held up until the State Historic Preservation Division completed its review. It was only then that the city could begin processing the permit.

The couple's real estate agent said the closing was extended four times and the seller had been tempted by other offers.

 "We were stuck. Yeah, we were stuck,” Ibalei said.

 Their contractor thought this was no way to do business, and sought help from area lawmakers.

"It didn’t seem like it was fair to this family. They really wanted this house." said Diane Koki of Roy S. Koki General Contractors.

 She says getting information from SHPD was one frustration after another. 

 "No one answers, and if they answer, they don’t return calls. I asked several times to see what was the status and I never got calls back, I would call back again," exclaimed Koki.

Councilman Ron Menor said what he thought was an isolated problem turned out to be potential crisis for homeowners across the state.

 "If the homeowners want to do simple renovations and they have to go through this time-consuming and elaborate process? That's illogical and that's ridiculous and we need to grant  exemptions on these kinds of properties," said Menor.

Here in Mililani, Castle and Cooke said it began building houses in 1968 at a rate of 400 a year, so thousands of homes in this neighborhood stand to be affected.

Neighborhoods from Kaimuki, to Hawaii Kai, to Kaneohe could potentially get stuck in the red tape unless something changes soon.

The city has convened a special task force to meet Friday to discuss the problem. 

SHPD says it processes about a thousand reviews a month.

The dilemma is everything old, isn't necessarily historic.

And soon many post-statehood era tract homes may be subject to the law.

The city told KITV that last year there were some 52 thousand homes that hit fifty year mark.

Menor's office believes that number is now more around 70 thousand.

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