The Department of Planning and Permitting issued a notice of violation against a church-backed foundation helping house the homeless by erecting 50 plastic storage sheds on a 4-acre Waianae farm.
The notice, issued May 27, says the 50 8-by-10-foot plastic structures were erected without the required building permits, with a deadline of June 28 to obtain permits and/or correct the violations.
The HI Good Samaritan Foundation, which was started by Hawaii Cedar Church, was notified that a triple fee penalty could be assessed by the DPP, imposing civil fines for starting construction without first getting the required building permits. The specific fine in this case is not known, but the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu state a building permit violation could result in a fine of $2,000 per day until the violation is resolved.
Several complaints were made regarding unpermitted structures on the property at 85-596I Waianae Valley Road, said DPP spokesman Curtis Lum in an email.
One of those complaints came from Kalihi resident Ila Park. She said after reading a June 11 Honolulu Star-Advertiser article about the project, she called the city to complain.
“I’m just a citizen,” Park said. “I got no skin in any game. I just read that and how could they be able to do this? What gives him the right? I think that’s a fire hazard. I think it’s dangerous. I don’t think people should be living in Home Depot storage sheds.”
A DPP inspector determined the plastic structures were erected without a building permit.
Cedar Church in Kalihi, led by Pastor Duk Whan Kim, the bought the farm in 2012 to help homeless people willing to work on the farm, and they began farming in April.
The homeless live in the ready-made plastic sheds, which are supplemented with shared portable toilets, showers and a covered outdoor kitchen and dining area.
The farm grows vegetables and has eight goats, and Kim plans to expand it with chickens, ducks and more goats.
The church has a food establishment permit and is planning to set up a kimchi factory in September at the farm using some of the produce, a church spokeswoman said. The homeless would be able to work in the factory.
The city and the church are working to resolve the permit violation issue.
“This effort (the storage shed housing) is meant to be temporary to help transition people to more structured housing options,” said Lum, the DPP spokesman. “Given the severe need to provide shelter for the homeless, the city wants to work with the landowner to come up with a long-term solution.”
Pastor Kim said in an email Wednesday, “We are cooperating with city officials regarding a permit issue and we are hopeful for a resolution. Untill the permitting issue is resolved, we have stopped all plans to expand shelters for the homeless.”
No fines had been imposed as of Wednesday, Lum said. DPP officials are working with Anton Krucky, the city’s executive director of the Office on Housing and Homelessness, to resolve the issue.
Krucky said Wednesday he is trying to work with members of the community, such as the Cedar Church, who are helping to provide homes and employment to the homeless.
“We recognize these villages can have a very positive effect,” Krucky said.
Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kalihi Valley-Kamehameha Heights) set up a news conference at the Cedar Church farm on June 10.
Mizuno said Wednesday he expects the permit issue will be settled soon.
“I support the work being done by the Hawaii Good Samaritan Foundation and Cedar Church of Kalihi to help our disadvantaged homeless population at the church’s self-support farm in Waianae Valley. I understand the church and the city are reviewing a permitting issue and look forward to it being resolved soon.”