Boulder puts project on hold
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Curtis Lum
The city yesterday ordered a developer to temporarily halt construction on a Nu'uanu Valley hillside project, a day after a large boulder crashed into the back of a home.
David Tanoue, Department of Planning and Permitting director, issued the temporary stop-work order to Laumaka LLC and its manager, Patrick Shin. Shin is developing the Dowsett Highlands subdivision project on a steep 45-acre parcel in the valley.
On Wednesday afternoon, a boulder estimated to be 1,000 pounds bounded down the hillside and slammed into the home at 3429 Kahawalu Drive. No one was injured, but the boulder damaged parts of the house when it crashed just outside the home's master bedroom.
Yesterday, city inspectors determined that the incident was not a natural occurrence or caused by the instability of the hillside.
Tanoue said the slide was caused by the contractor, who was moving rocks and soil.
Tanoue maintains that the area is still suitable for development.
"As a precaution, however, the department issued a stop-work order and is requiring that a geotechnical engineer review the construction area and put in place any additional construction safeguards that may be required," he said.
Tanoue added that Shin said he will take responsibility for any damage incurred by Bud and Cindy Johnstone, who own the home. Shin would not comment yesterday.
Bud Johnstone said he has not spoken with Shin since the incident, but was told by Tanoue of the city's action. Johnstone and many of his neighbors have opposed the development of the land above their homes because of the potential for rockfalls and mudslides.
He said yesterday that he hopes the city will come up with safeguards to prevent another incident.
"You could tell by the scrape marks on the boulder that excavation equipment had been used on that particular rock at some point. It certainly wasn't menehunes," Johnstone said. "If it wasn't a boulder that was an act-of-god type of thing and in fact was the result of the developer moving rocks around up there, it would appear it could happen again."
Johnstone said he doesn't have a damage estimate yet, but has been cleared by his insurance company to begin cleaning the damaged area today. But Johnstone said he hasn't figured out how to remove the boulder.
"We've got to see who does that kind of thing," he said. Johnstone added that he has not ruled out legal action against Shin.
Reach Curtis Lum at firstname.lastname@example.org.