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Billionaire’s Kahala houses being repaired, cleaned up

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Question: Whatever happened to the neglected properties in the affluent Kahala neighborhood owned by Japanese billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto?

Answer: "Mr. Kawamoto is starting to rectify everything," said attorney Junsuke Otsuka of Otsuka & Associates, who is representing Kawamoto regarding the outstanding violations on the properties. Two months ago, Kawamoto started to make necessary repairs and clean up.

"It’s still in the process," Otsuka said. "It’s going to take some time to clean up."

Richard Turbin, a lawyer and former chairman of the Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board, said much still needs to be done. "There has not been extensive improvements in the area," said Turbin.

In recent years, Kahala residents complained of the conditions of the neglected homes.

According to the city, Kawamoto received notice of violations or notice of orders dating from 2005 involving 19 homes he owns on Kahala Avenue. The violations involve overgrown lawns, litter and crumbling walls.

Most of the affected homes are vacant.

Three homes that Kawamoto offered in 2008 as rentals to families appear to be in good condition, Turbin said. Two of the three are not on the city list of properties that are facing or had faced violations that have since been corrected.

The most recent citation was issued two months ago for violations at 4607 Kahala Ave. According to the city, cylindrical footings fell into the shoreline setback area. Improvements have yet to be made, said Art Challacombe, chief of the Customer Service Office of the Department of Planning and Permitting.

Of the 56 notices of violations issued to Kawamoto, 47 were corrected. Of the 29 notices of orders issued, 22 were corrected and fines were paid. The amount of fines paid was not available.

Challacombe said an inspector is sent to a site where a notice of violation is issued. The property owner has 30 days to correct the violation. If the owner fails to comply, a notice of order is issued and daily fines are imposed until the problem is corrected.

Seven notices of orders remain outstanding. Fines to date for those violations total $171,700, according to a list created by the city.

Kawamoto recently retained Otsuka & Associates to address the violations. Otsuka said he has yet to see the outstanding notices of orders and is trying to obtain the documents from the Department of the Corporation Counsel.

Kawamoto is slated to return to Hawaii next month.

—— This update was written by Rosemarie Bernardo. You can write to us at What Ever Happened to …, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail


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