**IMPORTANT PARK NOTICES**
2/21/24 - UPDATED - [OAHU]: Kaʻena Point State Park, Mokuleʻia Section gate has REOPENED. The Keawaʻula gate has REOPENED.
**UPDATED 02/16/24 – THIRD KŌKE‘E CABIN AUCTION IN HISTORY COMING UPPosted on Feb 16, 2024
|JOSH GREEN, M.D.
THIRD KŌKE‘E CABIN AUCTION IN HISTORY COMING UP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 12, 2024
(KŌKE‘E STATE PARK, KAUA‘I) ¾ Seven cabins in the historic Kōke’e recreation residence community will be auctioned to the public in mid-April, for annual leases.
The historic Kōke’e recreation residence community began in the mountains of Kaua‘i in 1918. It was created for the protection of forest resources and the watershed, but also for recreational pursuits and public access. The community was planned and modeled on recreation residences in the U.S. National Forests across the mainland. First, the Territory of Hawai‘i and then the state of Hawaiʻi began issuing permits and leases for more than 100 recreation residences, including to church camps and civic organizations.
Chipper Wichman, president of the Kōke‘e Leaseholders Association said, “The unique historic community that has evolved up in Kōke‘e over the last 100 years is part of Hawai‘i’s heritage and is not replicated anywhere else in the state. Many of the cabins are designated as historic structures under Hawai‘i law. The DLNR Division of State Parks (DSP) has adopted specific design guidelines to protect the unique architecture of this mountain community.” The properties were leased by negotiation and appraisal until 1985, when they were all offered for public auction. Following a 20-year lease term which ended in 2005, lessees in good standing were again allowed to continue their leases through direct negotiation and appraisal. However, 17 cabins were returned to the state at that time, which set the stage for the second-ever auction in December 2011. Winning bids for annual lease rent during that auction ranged from $2,500 to $18,000. The seven cabins that will be auctioned during the upcoming third auction were all returned to the state over roughly the past 10 years. As a result, many of these properties have deteriorated. Successful bidders will have an opportunity to join a historic community that takes pride in helping care for the mountains of Kaua‘i.
Opening bids for the currently available lots will range from $4,500 to $9,500, for annual lease rent.
The Kōkeʻe Leaseholders Association was formed in 1983 to work with the state and to protect this community. Wichman added, “We work closely with the DSP to ensure that these cabins get into the hands of community members who will love them and maintain them as recreational residences, as always envisioned.”
Most of the seven cabins have been neglected for many years and will need significant work before they can be enjoyed. All have access to electricity, telephone, internet, and water. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are needed to reach several of the cabins.
“For some of the current lot of cabins up for auction, “rustic” may be a bit of an understatement. They’ve been vacant awhile – bring your own elbow grease. But we’re confident that we’ll find good families to steward and enjoy these cherished mountain cabins,” said DSP Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter.
People will have an opportunity to view the exterior of the cabins and their associated properties at the end of February, for a proposed auction date in mid-April. Review details of the cabins on the Waimea Canyon and Kōkeʻe State Parks Cabin Lot Auction Information page in the resources below.
FAQS – UPDATED 2/16/2024
|Who is eligible to bid on a cabin?
The recreation-residence lots are being auctioned via a three-tier process, with qualified Tier 1 applicants going first (on April 18, 2024). Tier one applicants must be full-time residents of a Hawai’I county of less than 100,000 population. This rules out residents of Honolulu, Maui and Hawai’i Counties.
Corporations are not eligible to bid, only individuals. There may be more than one lessee per lot, but each lessee would have to qualify under the Tier they intend to bid with (for example, a Kaua’i resident bidding in Tier 1 would not be allowed to have a co-lessee who is a non-resident).
Those planning to bid as a hui must list all members (or representative members of each family) on ONE application – and would also need to submit Tier 1 qualifying info for ALL listed applicants. If one applicant did not meet the residency qualifications, the hui would not qualify to bid.
Should there be any remaining cabins after the Tier 1 auction, a Tier 2 auction, to be held at a later date, would expand eligibility to all residents of Hawai’i. A subsequent Tier 3 auction, open to all qualified applicants regardless of residency, would be held for any remaining cabin lots following Tier 2.
It is not expected that any cabins will be available after the Tier 1 auction on April 18, due to pent-up demand and the low number of available cabins.
|What is the timeline for the cabin auction?
|Can I live in a cabin?
|No. These cabins are for occasional/part-time recreational use, and full-time residence is strictly prohibited. They may be used for up to 180 days/year max. Proof of principal residence in another location is a requirement of the lease.
|Can I rent out my cabin if I don’t exceed the 180-day limit?
|No. Short-term rental or subleasing of the premises is not allowed. In fact, no commercial use of the property of any kind is allowable, only recreational.
|How much work do the cabins need?
The precise amount of deferred maintenance and degree of deterioration varies across the seven available cabins. Some of them have been vacant for nearly a decade, while others have been given up fairly recently. Among the most common issues are roof deterioration/damage, and termite damage. All will require some significant improvements to bring them up to a quality, habitable standard, and there may be hidden damage not readily apparent in a cursory inspection. Potential bidders should possess the means and/or the expertise to appropriately repair these unique and historic buildings in compliance with the design standards:
Approvals will be required by DLNR, and in some cases, SHPD in compliance with Chapter 6E, Hawaiʻiʻs historic preservation statute. Efforts will be made to fast-track approvals so that there are not long delays before improvements may begin.
|Do I/we have to spend money on repairs?
|Lease conditions require tenants to keep the improvements in good repair, and acknowledging that these are in substandard condition to begin with, it is expected that repairs will be necessary not only to comply with the lease, but to upgrade them to the degree necessary to allow for your full enjoyment of the property.
|Will I/we have to upgrade the cesspool(s) on property?
|Cesspools for single residences are grandfathered in, and not subject to mandatory replacement until 2050 under current law. Proposed changes to statutes may require conversion sooner, but we are confident there will be no compulsory upgrade required prior to the end of the lease period.
|Why is the lease period only 7 ½ years?
|The existing cabins under 20-year leases have expiration dates as late as December 31, 2031. The current available cabins will be synched with that date so that a comprehensive policy can be applied to all leases beginning in 2032. Among other things, the next lease period beginning in 2032 will require conversion of all cesspools to septic systems, therefore incentives to that requirement are being considered to apply across the board.
|Will I/we own the cabin at the end of the lease?
|No. As public trust resources, ownership of all improvements is retained by the State. There is no guarantee of lease extension or a new lease.
|What happens at the end of the lease period?
|When the current leases expire, tenants are expected to vacate the premises. However, the recreation-residence program is expected to continue in perpetuity, and what the next lease provisions will be should be established in advance of 2032. Options may include, but not be limited to: a new auction; a lottery; or direct negotiation with existing tenants who have maintained and improved their property in good faith and are in full compliance with all lease conditions.
|Can I/we tear down a cabin and build a new one?
|Because these are part of an historic district, and many are historic structures themselves, they should be preserved rather than replaced. As noted, this may take significant effort. However, the approvals and permits to demolish and replace would likely take far more time and money than simply rehabilitating and preserving them in their original form and character.
|Can I/we sell the lease?
|While lease transfers are allowed under certain conditions and with approval of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, these lots are not considered real property and lessees do not own the improvements. Their value is recreational, and while they have been reassigned in the past – typically to other family members – the BLNR has the discretion to deny a lease reassignment if it appears someone is attempting to profit from public trust resources.
# # #
(All images and video courtesy: DLNR)
Waimea Canyon and Kōkeʻe State Parks Cabin Lot Auction Information (Available Friday, Feb. 16, 2024): https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/waimea-canyon-and-kokee-state-parks-cabin-lot-auction/
HD video – Kōke‘e cabins auction video preview (Feb. 7, 2024): https://vimeo.com/911381877?share=copy
HD video – Kōke‘e cabins auction SOTs (Feb. 7, 2024): https://vimeo.com/911315351?share=copy
(Chipper Wichman and Alan Carpenter interviews)
Photographs – Kōke‘e cabins auction (Feb. 7, 2024): https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/6s6eq82e70i0psbf355hm/h?rlkey=5agjmsgsawa7siyxeyx1guqkt&dl=0