Haiku Stairs gets reprieve from demolition, but now city needs to take action

‘Stairway to Heaven’ to be transferred to the City and County of Honolulu

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Board of Water Supply voted unanimously Monday to transfer the Haiku Stairs over to the city to turn the off-limits trail into a paid attraction.

But the deal comes with a deadline: If the city doesn’t take over in 18 months, the stairs will be torn down.

Even amid the pandemic, people showed up at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply on Monday to have their voices heard. Wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, testifiers were allowed to go into the building one by one.

There, they had their say via video conference.

"I want to stand in front of them and say please follow through with what you said you want to do,” said Kaneohe resident Allen Walterman. “I live in the neighborhood. We get trespassers through our property constantly.

"They leave garbage, they leave trash. They’re noisy.”

Six people showed up in person. Others called and submitted testimony online.

Among those, Honolulu’s mayor asked for the stairs to be transferred to city’s Parks Department.

In all, more than 3,800 pieces of testimony were received.

"It's a national treasure. It's a historic monument. It's got all this really important history related to the Second World War. But it's also a great opportunity to teach people about Hawaiian culture, the plants that are up there and the history of the valley," said Vernon Ansdell, Friends of Haiku Stairs President.

BWS’ preferred action was removing the famed Haiku Stairs, citing liability and cost concerns.

However, after more than 3,600 people testified to keep the stairs, board members voted to transfer the stairs to another city department instead.

“We should do everything to keep the stairs. This is Hawaii’s treasure. This is a world treasure. National Geographic lists the stairs as one of the 10 best hikes in the whole world and I think we should do everything to keep the stairs,” said Poland visitor Marta Korycka.

BWS officials said 180 people submitted testimony to remove the stairs.

“We constantly have trespassers in our yard,” said Kaneohe resident Stosh Ostrow. “The people who are in support of maintaining the stairs don’t live in affected neighborhoods, the so-called Friends of the Haiku Stairs, they don’t live there, they don’t have to deal with the trespassers from 3 o’clock in the morning on.”

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