An ADU or Additional Dwelling unit may be zoned for only one house. The lot must be 10,000 square feet or larger and have approvals of various County departments, including the Planning Department, Public Works, The Water Department, The Health Department, The Building Department, and Fire Department.


A tract of land stretching from the tip of a mountain and broadening shaped like a pie-slice, all the way to the coastline. Hawaiian Alii (royalty) granted large tracts of land in this manner. All types of land needed to provide food for Hawaiian subsidence, from the mountains and the rivers to the coastlands and ocean, were included in a single ahupuaa. The mountain streams to provide the small freshwater shrimp (opae) of the 4 inch fish, a delicacy called the opu: taro, the main staple of the Hawaiian diet, grew in terraced ponds descending from the mountains. Breadfruit and coconuts came from lower elevations. Fish, octopus, seaweed were provided by the ocean. Fish growing mullet ponds were often constructed along streams or on the ocean. Thus the ahupaa was a complete food- processing (arguably “economic”) system.


With very few exceptions, you will be unable to purchase a “private beach” per se in Hawaii, as beaches in Hawaii are public beaches accessible to all. Fences extending into the ocean to keep people off of “private beaches” - as in Florida of bygone years and many other areas in the world – does not happen in Hawaii. Whatever square footage may show on a tax map or be represented in advertising or other sources regarding beachfront property, it may not be accurate, and cannot be depended on except as a general, approximate estimate of what one may own. Differing courts have ruled that the Oceanside property line extends to the vegetation line, or the high wash of the waves, or that “the high tide” – which if any of these apply in a particular case has never been fully resolved. In fact, today, when you purchase oceanfront property you will likely acquire a Shoreline Certification. A Certified Shoreline Survey is required for most building permits on coastal property and designates the seaward line from which shoreline setbacks are based. To obtain more information on how to obtain a Shoreline Certification contact John or Kristin.


Most states have a law which governs the establishment and governance of condominium apartments. In Hawaii the law identifies and directs the condominium property regime or CPR. Though most think of a “condominium” as an apartment, a CPR is more accurately a form of ownership in which the limited “common elements” (the unit or apartment, for example) can be separated from the “common elements” (grounds, swimming pool, BBQ areas, etc.), which are proportionally owned and governed by all the owners in the Association. About 20 years ago, the CPR from of ownership (not technically “subdivide”) lands and residents so that separate title could be held on each of the limited common elements. Suppose a land owner had a piece of agriculture land which would allow the building of two dwellings. He could separate the land into two parcels (each allowing one dwelling) through the CPR process. Each parcel would then be considered “the unit” or “apartment” in other words the limited common element. What was common to both would be the common elements, and the Association of owner required by the CPR law would have mutual control over only that portion. Where an older style of combined ownership in Hawaii resulted in a cooperative ownership in a group or hui with attendant risk of shared liability, this CPR ownership separates ownership interests and allows individual mortgaging independent of other owners of the CPR project.


Fee Simple (FS) is the highest form of land ownership in which the land is owned outright, as contrasted to leasehold (LH) in which the land is leased. Most mainland owners own homes and property in fee simple, though they may never have been aware of the term. Unlike (Oahu) where leasehold ( non-fee simple) land is common for residential properties, Kauai has very few leasehold residential properties. For condominium apartments however, about 40% are on leasehold land requiring (usually) monthly payments on the underlying land lease. Leases on land usually are long-term, and have built in increases every specified period of years, finally terminating. At that time, presumably new lease could be negotiated, or, worst case the lessor reclaims the land. To compensate, condominiums on leasehold land are generally less expensive than comparable ones on fee simple property.


Certain areas, for example areas around Anahola, have been set aside as exclusively available as homelands for those of Hawaiian descent having a specified percentage of Hawaiian ancestry. These properties may not certainly be sold to non-Hawaiians, though family members with less than a specified percentage of Hawaiian ancestry living on the property can inherit and remain on the land. Hawaiian sovereignty claims and controversially slow qualifying for occupancy in the past has brought Hawaiian homes issues to the public attention repeatedly in recent years.


A Kuleana is a homesite contained within a larger piece which adds to the number of dwelling units that may be built on a larger piece regardless of zoning. Each Kuleana adds one dwelling to total density. Thus, a piece of property whose zoning allows five dwelling set which has two Kuleana’s would be allowed seven dwellings. The most remarkable quality of the Kuleana is it may be moved with proper notices and legal backup anywhere in the property. Many larger North Shore properties have Kuleana’s.


Not a legal term but in common usage “Ohana Zoning” refers to the allowance of an additional dwelling unit (See ADU) to be Bill with proper authorization on qualifying properties. In Hawaiian, Ohana means ‘family” hence the name, as the provision allows for an “Ohana House” to be built for one’s relatives or family.

Kristin M. Zimmerman & John F. Friedman
Kauai Aloha Real Estate, Inc.
Kristin M. Ph: (808) 651-9506John F. Ph:(808) 651-1276
4690 Kapuna Rd.
Kilauea, HI 96754 US
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