Couple finds out they own a road by getting $18,000 power bill for streetlights

It all started when resident David Carona wanted a street light fixed in front of his home.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 1:16 PM CDT
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MAILI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) - A couple in Hawaii recently learned in a costly manner that they were the owners of a road they had bought a home on.

Halemaluhia Place in Maili, Hawaii, was built in the 1990s.

Resident David Carona said he wanted a street light fixed in front of his home and was told he needed to contact the owner of the road, according to HawaiiNewsNow.

“This street light was out so I called the city to have it repaired or have it corrected, and they told me that the street itself was private, and I had to contact the owner of the street to have it replaced and fixed,” he said.

It turned out the owners were Desha-Ann and Rashaan Kealoha, although they didn’t know it yet.

“When we first moved in, our other neighbor told us that we own the street,” Desha-Ann Kealoha said. “And we kinda just laughed it up because we thought, ‘We’re the new neighbor.’”

Carona did some research and then discovered that the road wasn’t conveyed to the city when the subdivision was completed. But he wasn’t able to find the original developer to find out why.

HawaiiNewsNow also tried to find out who the developer was, without success.

“Somehow, the original developer or owners of the lot that were supposed to dedicate it, conveyed it to the original owner of the property the Kealohas own now,” Carona said.

The Kealohas didn’t take it seriously until they got a letter from Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) asking for $18,000 for 20 years of streetlight use.

“As soon as I got it, I panicked,” Desha-Ann Kealoha said. “So, I started making all the phone calls necessary to find out why I should be held liable for it.”

The issue came before the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday.

HECO member Judy Hirashima said they’re not expecting the family to pay up.

“The intention I just want to share was not to collect the past due bill for over 20 years of electricity for the street lights,” Hirashima told the council. “That wasn’t the intention when we reached out.”

HECO said it just wants to determine who will pay the bill going forward, but couldn’t say why it took so long to discover the unpaid bill.

Councilmember Andria Tupola sponsored a resolution for the city to take possession of Halemaluhia Place and the responsibility for the light bill. Councilmembers adopted the resolution and Desha-Ann Kealoha testified in support of the measure.

“We definitely have an inside joke about this street being ours,” Kealoha said. “But you know, at the end of the day, I don’t want it to be ours.”

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