City looks for organization that could restore, operate Haiku Stairs

City looks for organization that could restore, operate Haiku Stairs
Haiku Stairs, also known as “Stairway to Heaven” (Source: Friends of Haiku Stairs)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is looking for an organization that would provide managed, fee-based access to Haiku Stairs.

The entity would also need to restore, operate and maintain the Windward Oahu attraction.

“Haiku Stairs is a significant asset to the people of Oahu and it should be better managed, with a safe and controlled entry point that doesn’t intrude on the surrounding neighborhood,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, in a news release.

“Public access to the stairs for hiking and guided educational experiences can help to preserve the history attached to it and to tell the stories of this special place for future generations."

The city’s request comes less than a month after the Board of Water Supply announced that a draft final Environmental Impact Statement for the stairs recommended their removal.

The board owns and manages the stairs and the land they are constructed on, and is expected to take up the matter at a meeting next month or in April.

The agency’s “objective is to eliminate liability associated with Haiku Stairs and the ongoing security costs that are passed on to water rate payers,” a portion of the study reads.

The Board of Water Supply has expressed interested in transferring control of the property to the city so that the stairs could reopen under the management of that agency.

Supporters of the trail have rallied publicly, urging Caldwell ― who said last year he wanted the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to take over the trail ― to do exactly that.

But the draft environmental impact statement said since the city hasn’t made any firm plans for such a transfer, removal appears to be the only viable course of action.

Despite having been closed since 1991, officials believe an estimated 4,000 hikers access the stairs ― more commonly known as the “Stairway to Heaven” ― every year.

Many Kaneohe residents say they are fed up with hikers trespassing through their properties to illegally climb the stairs for the breathtaking views.

The city is asking for organizations interested in managing the stairs to submit their names and contact information to the Office of the Purchasing Division by Feb. 28.

The office is located at 530 South King Street, Room 115.

Information being requested by the city includes:

  • Can a fee-based managed access model support a self-sustaining operation?
  • Is a five-year period sufficient for an organization to recover its fixed and variable costs?
  • What are the minimum financial qualifications for organizations interested in operating and maintaining the stairs?

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