Building code upgrades delayed until next summer

The Hawaii County Department of Public Works on Thursday granted an administrative grace period to a state-mandated deadline to upgrade its building codes, a move that will reduce confusion and allow for more public outreach before aligning the county’s building codes with state standards, according to a county news release.

The grace period leaves the current standards in place through Aug. 31, 2021.

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County Council Chair Aaron Chung and Public Works and Mass Transit Committee Chair Sue Lee Loy on Oct. 20 sent a letter to Gov. David Ige asking for an emergency suspension of HRS 107-28 due to COVID-19-related delays.

While the governor did not grant an exception, the state took the position that an emergency suspension was not necessary — instead, the individual counties were responsible for enforcement of the law.

“Waiting for the right time to implement these new requirements was the right thing to do. It provides some certainty in uncertain times,” Lee Loy said in the release. “I am happy the state and county has an understanding that advances this important work while preserving public health and safety, ensuring community engagement in the process, holding space for economic recovery, and protecting the hard-working men and women of our construction industry.”

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In the news release, Chung said “this puts us in the best position to avoid disruption to our construction industry at a time when we can ill-afford it. The upgrade to the building codes will be accomplished in a deliberate and a thoughtful way that will take into account robust public input when the codes are ready, rather than forcing the conversion to happen on an arbitrary date.”

For more information about the administrative grace period and its implications to the building permit process, contact the Department of Public Works Building Division by phone at (808) 961-8331 or email cohbuild@hawaiicounty.gov.

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