In the process, the property skirted federal flood regulations and a shoreline certification and somehow managed to get two TVR permits. Yes, the former King Hale has become, in vacation rental parlance, the King and the Princess, as in a multi-family rental, each with a separate nonconforming use permit. It's unclear how this could happen, since multi-family vacation rentals outside the Visitor Destination Area (VDA) have always been illegal, and still are.
But let's back up a little, to 1980, when the Kings divided the house into a horizontal — as in side-by-side — two-unit CPR. By the early 1990s, it had morphed, without the aid of permits, into four illegal vacation rentals. Neighbors clamored for enforcement against the mutli-family rental, and the county began investigating. Meanwhile, the structure, and its price, continued to evolve. Developer Craig Maas bought Unit B in 1998 for $300,000. After putting it through an extensive remodel, for which no building permits are listed, he sold it for $700,000, just 18 months later.
Murray Charlton, an Australian with a misnamed LLC called My Bungalow, bought both units for $1.85 million in 2006. The sales listing identified it as a five-bedroom, three-bath unit, with the caveat, “Property not in VDA, buyer should check with the county on vacation-rental issues…”
On Oct. 31, 2006, Charlton applied for a county building permit to add 4,350 square feet to the structure and make the house whole again. The value of the permit was listed at $256,000. On Aug. 3, 2007, the application was denied as a “substantial improvement” that would require the house to comply with federal flood standards. On Aug. 15, Charlton submitted a second application for a $243,000 remodel — just under the "substantial" threshold — and on Oct. 23, 2007, he got his building permit.
So began the “unsubstantial improvements,” which are also detailed on architect Glenn Forman''s website, that resulted in a much grander house.
Now prior to construction, in July 2007, the county had directed Charlton to conduct a shoreline certification, which is used to determine the structure's setback. The state surveyor came and discovered a revetment of rock and telephone poles fronting the house, on the public beach. He set the shoreline, which marks the extent of the public beach, at the red line marked on this photo.
The owner rejected the recommended shoreline, which would have made him remove the revetment as an illegal encroachment and restore the public beach. He appealed to the county, which inexplicably waived the shoreline requirement. The revetment was left in place, and the beach has since been heavily cultivated with naupaka, causing the once broad expanse to become narrow and steep.
In 2008, the county adopted a bill regulating vacation rentals. Charlton applied for two TVR permits: one for the King Hale and the other for the Princess Hale, which was identified as the ground floor of the King Hale, even though the application noted a remodel project in which "two halves of house joined together."
Neighbors objected, pointing out that it was still under construction, and if it was to be treated as a multifamily dwelling, then a special management area (SMA) permit should have been required for the renovation. Their primary concern, however, was that it would allow ground floor habitation in the flood zone, on a lot with no setback in a hazardous coastal area. But both TVR permits were approved, though planning inspector Bambi Emayo noted “SFR (single family residence) under construction” on his 2009 inspection report.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Health, acting on a tip, cited the owner for installing the new septic tank without a permit on the previously identified public beach seaward of the red line. DOH required the tank be dug up and moved to the mauka side of the house. The resulting hole on the makai side was filled with dirt, rather than sand, and the red clay now leaches onto the white sand of the public accessway and beach.
The house got its final building inspection on August 19, 2009. This picture, taken on July 11, 2008, shows the gutting of the house is well under way, and it is obviously not in use as a vacation rental.
As noted in Abuse Chronicles 2:
“If any nonconforming use ceases for any reason for a continuous period of 12 calendar months or for 1 season if use be seasonal, then the use should not be resumed and any use of the building or property thereafter shall be in full conformance with the provisions of this chapter.”
But since it had been operating as an illegal multifamily TVR, it should not have qualified as a previous nonconforming use.
On June 1, 2012, Charlton sold the property to Hale King LLC, of Berkeley, Calif., for $4.4 million. Curiously, 2013 county tax records still show the house at its original 1,880 square feet, and it is described as one building and one dwelling. Even more telling, the property's assessed value is just $2.775 million, which indicates people are willing to pay a substantial premium for permits that allow them to operate commercial enterprises on prime beachfront land.
Advertisements for the vacation rental, which sleeps eight and rents for $1,450 to $1,750 per night, with a seven-night minimum stay, depict it as having three bedrooms, three baths, a kitchen and living area on the main floor, as well as a first floor guest suite, with a bedroom, sitting area, full kitchen and separate entrance. In short, it is operating as a multi-family vacation rental, which is an illegal use outside of the visitor destination area. So how did they get not just one, but two permits for this illegal use?
The property is also described as a “stone's throw” from the ocean, which may not prove to be such a selling point for the unsuspecting ground floor inhabitants during the next big wave event or tsunami.