Japanese real estate tycoon under fire by Kahala neighbors

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Feb 12 2013 06:36:32 AM HST

A bill inspired by the odd-looking properties owned by a Japanese billionaire in Hawaii could keep private estates from being a public nuisance.

HONOLULU -

The eccentric tycoon is back in the islands.

This week, he was tackling the rubble strewn grounds on what he envisions as home to a future art museum.

His collection of marble statues and lions and temples is growing, and growing, and growing.

The development of Genshiro Kawamoto's gardens have been mostly on the oceanfront properties.  But in recent months, Kawamoto has taken to beautifying the mauka side of Kahala Avenue.

The billionaire's flowers and nymphs are Kawamoto's answer to chronic complaints by neighbors that some of his derelict properties are ruining the neighborhood.  

Kahala resident Richard Turbin calls the trashy statures and rubble an eyesore.

But he points to other abandoned homes that he said are a growing hazard.

"Some of the property is used by squatters, by homeless people that is creating a dangerous situation and they yell at night. They are public nuisances and Kawamoto doesn’t police those properties," 

Under a public nuisance bill advanced today by state lawmakers, private homeowners could take action if three complaints go unresolved for three years.

But the House Water and Land committee cut the time to a year and a half, as a message to state and city regulators to act sooner.

"What we are saying is don’t wait a year to see if the person has resolved the problem. You get out there in six months. So I think we are sending a stronger message that we as legislators want them to be a little more proactive," said Rep. Cindy Evens.

A new round of noise complaints was triggered this year.

A needy family that Kawamoto is allowing to live in this home began running generators after they told neighbors they had no electricity.

Residents on Royal Place complain the family is subletting the home.

They also worry for their safety.  In recent months, police have been called repeatedly to break up fights.

The Kahala Neighborhood Board is scheduled to take up the issue at a meeting later this week.

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