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State law requires review of property over 50 years old

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Question: In January, the architect designing my new home submitted the plans to the city Department of Planning and Permitting. The plans were approved. There is an old home, built in 1938, on the same lot, adjacent to where the new home is to be built. It is scheduled to be renovated, but is not part of the new home. However, my permit had to be reviewed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources because of a “historic preservation” requirement that covers all structures 50 years or older, historic or not. It is stuck there. Why does a permit to build a new structure that’s simply next to a 50-plus-year-old structure get held hostage under the historic preservation law?

Answer: There must have been some miscommunication because DLNR’s State Historic Preservation Division signed off on your permit on April 1, saying “no historic property was affected.”
After receiving your complaint, SHPD staff looked up your file and found that a letter relaying that its determination was sent to the Planning and Permitting Department and that “the homeowner should have received a copy of the letter,” said DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward.

Under Chapter 6E of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to “historic preservation,” a historic property is defined as “any building, structure, object, district, area, or site, including heiau and underwater site, which is over fifty years old.”

Ward said a historic preservation review encompasses all aspects of a historic property, including “feeling and association” (i.e., is there an expansive yard/lawn connected with the property), workmanship, materials, location and design.

“Therefore, if the old house and the new house share a TMK (Tax Map Key), the permit will come to us for review,” she said.

In your case, “The construction of the new dwelling was probably sent to SHPD for archaeology review because it might involve subsurface disturbance,” which in turn, might affect the subsurface of a potential historic property, Ward said.

Asked how long it is taking to process permit applications involving 50-plus- year-old homes that aren’t necessarily on any historic register, Ward said it is difficult to comment on the review time without specific application numbers.

There’s not necessarily a shortage of staff to process applications — “There are just a lot of applications,” she said.

Question: Peter Apo did a nice job of presenting the Friends of Natatorium information in the Star-Advertiser on May 12 (see, but there was no information on how we can join that group or contact them. Do they have a phone number, a website, a mailing address to find out how we can support them to fully restore the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium?

Answer: You can get information about the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by going to, by calling Treasurer Jim Anderson at 396-8866; or by sending a letter to Jim Anderson, Friends of the Natatorium, P.O. Box 25715, Honolulu HI 96825.
Contributions by personal check also may be sent to that address.


To Ron at TSA who assisted us when I lost my gold heirloom bracelet somewhere between the Honolulu and Las Vegas airports on March 21. Much has been said about negative things about the TSA system, but Ron demonstrated the positive in a professional, yet kind and patient manner. May you also find a treasure that you thought you lost. —  Fay and Carole


To a driver with no regard for the aina. I was driving behind him on Date Street on April 28 and saw him throw out a bottle, aiming for the curb across the street to purposely break it, then later, throwing out an empty pack of cigarettes. Wow, what a thing to do. It was so unexpected. — S.G.

Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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