Ohana Zoning for Oahu’s Families

Ohana zoning was originally proposed in 1982 by Mayor Eileen Anderson with a purpose of assisting families to obtain affordable housing and to encourage the extended family.  An ohana unit is a second living unit added to a residential dwelling.  When the program initially began in 1982-1983 ohana dwelling units accounted for almost 25% of residential construction. After an assessment of the program in 1985, it was found that there were some areas which had inadequate road and sewer capacity for the increased density and therefore many ohana-eligible areas were closed.

As a result of the assessment in 1985 an ordinance in 1988 (88-48 4/8/1998) addressed these concerns and created guidelines for the development of ohana units which were referred to as accessory units. Over the years there have been various changes as to the size and means by which ohana units could be built.

There was a period between 1990 to 1994 in which no ohana permits were issued due to an abuse of the ordinance.  Owners were abusing the process by building a second unit, creating a CPR, and then selling off the ohana unit.  Changes were made to the program with restrictions to prevent abuses and then in 1994 ohana dwelling permits were again issued.

An ordinance in 2006 increased restrictions for building ohana units which included some of the following:

  • Ohana units must be attached to the main dwelling.
  • The areas must have adequate road, water and sewer infrastructure.
  • There must be adequate parking (ie. 2 parking stalls)
  • The ohana unit must be rented to people related by blood, marriage or adoption.
  • Additional construction demands to retrofit existing dwelling.
It is no surprise that with the restrictions placed upon building ohana units, the majority of approximately 2,000 ohana permits were issued between 1982 and 1997.
Resolution 14-2000 was recently introduced by city Councilman Ron Menor which seeks to ease the restrictions currently in place for ADU (accessory dwelling units).  This would affect the current ohana rules.  Mayor Caldwell has also suggested that expansion of the city’s ADU program is part of his affordable housing strategy.

For more information on ohana units or any real estate matters contact us.

About the Author

Brandon Lau grew up in Kailua and currently resides in Honolulu with his wife Andee and children Caylah, Elijah, and David. His eighteen years in real estate led him to become a Partner at ChaneyBrooks Choice Advisors. Over the past 10 years he has developed the team and systems that has created a high level of service and value for his clients.

What differentiates Brandon and his team is his consultative approach to real estate. He advises clients with relevant data and expert insight to help them make the best choices in real estate. Good choices in planning for long term dispositions, negotiating for the best price or knowing when not to pursue an investment are ways his consultative services will give you an advantage in the marketplace. His bottom line is providing service with the utmost integrity and expertise.