ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an accessory or second dwelling unit, including its own kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom facilities, attached or detached from the primary dwelling unit on the zoning lot. ADUs are intended to be “accessory” to the main house, and are typically much smaller and sited to the rear or side of the house.
It is part of the Mayors affordable housing strategy, that allows homeowners to create secondary units that are usually much smaller. It has several benefits to homeowners. For instance it can help seniors “age in place” by allowing them to move into the smaller unit and rent out the main house.
Since ADU’s and Ohana’s share the same intent, infrastructure requirements, and community perception, it’s helpful to understand the history, success and pitfalls of Ohana Dwellings in Honolulu.
Multi-generational dwellings were enacted by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1981 (Act 229). The term “Ohana Dwellings Units” as they are commonly known, was coined by then Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson.
Initially, there was no restriction that occupancy be limited to “ohana.” Restriction to family or ohana was a common misconception that interestingly was an additional restriction that was added by the City Council in the 1990’s. The original state statute only required that the counties allow a second dwelling unit by right, on any residential property that had adequate public facilities (i.e., sewer, water, roads).
The 1981 enabling legislation linked the importance of multi-generational living and housing affordability– core concepts of aging in place.
A 1984 Program Evaluation of Ohana Housing states, “It was a slow year for single family residential construction on Oahu in 1982-83. However, in the program’s first year of implementation, ohana units comprised roughly one-fourth of all single family construction (emphasis added). Without the ohana zoning provisions, these units probably would not have been built. Theoretically, about 45 acres of additional land would have been required had these additional units been constructed in a typical subdivision.”
But implementation of the state mandate to allow second units proved troublesome at the local level.
In the early 1980s, the counties raised the objection that the law removed their ability to control residential density and direct urban growth. Thus, the State amended the law in 1989 (Act 313) to make second units optional rather than mandatory.
However, it is important to note that despite the objections of the counties, the 1988 (Hawaii state) Legislative Reference Bureau study indicates that none of the Hawaii counties had repealed their Ohana ordinances. In fact, Maui has replaced its Ohana Dwelling designation and has adopted Accessory Dwelling Units.
If you are interested in learning more about an ADU dwelling, the benefits and if you qualify, contact us for a FREE consultation.
An ADU is an accessory or second dwelling unit, including its own kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom facilities, attached or detached from the primary dwelling unit on the zoning lot. ADUs are intended to be “accessory” to the main house, and are typically much smaller and sited to the rear or side of the house.
Why are ADUs important?
As identified in the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Strategy, there is a major shortage of affordable housing on Oahu, especially for rental housing. ADUs can help address this problem by allowing existing homeowners to build a second unit on their property. In addition, seniors will have the option to “age in place” by moving into the ADU and renting the larger home for additional income.
Where can I build an ADU?
An ADU can be built on any lot zoned Residential (R-3.5, R-5, R-7.5, R-10, and R-20) or Country District with a lot area of 3,500 square feet (SF) or more provided that there is adequate infrastructure and subject to meeting all other Land Use Ordinance provisions for the zoning lot and there are no restrictive covenants.
How are ADUs different from ohana dwelling units?
ADUs are similar, but not synonymous with ohana dwelling units. The key difference is that ohana dwellings restrict occupancy to family members, have no size limitations, and require two off-street parking spaces. The ADU regulations allow occupancy of the ADU by non-family members, require only one off-street parking space, and limit the size of the ADU.