City Council moves closer to restoring Haiku Stairs, but opposition remains

Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 10:36 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Plans to restore and reopen the illegal but popular Haiku Stairs were advanced Monday by the City Council.

But community opposition remains on the divisive topic.

In the first step to reopening the stairs, the city acquired the land and wants a company or a non-profit to take over responsibility for repairs, which would cost about $1 million plus maintenance and security.

That group would make its money back by charging entry fees for the next 12 years.

“We don’t usually go into 12-year lease agreements especially for a property that under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation,” said Tsuneyoshi. “We have issues with DPR just dealing with our parks and rec so this is a different type of solicitation.”

“The city is willing to as soon as the solicitation is out and in play and before any conditional award is made,” said City Enterprise Services Director, Guy Kaulukukui. “Go back into the community and at that point in time we can answer very specific questions.”

The resolution also includes guided hikes and an education program.

It’s a plan Friends of Haiku Stairs support.

“Reopening the stairs would be a boost for the many local people who have been particularly patient, waiting for decades to climb the stairs legally,” said Vernon Ansdell, president of Friends of Haiku Stairs. “It would also be a wonderful opportunity to provide a truly unique attraction for visitors as tourism in Hawaii is rebuilt following COVID-19.”

Although the Haiku Stairs has been off-limits for decades, Glory Ann Delos Reyes – Scaggs of Kaneohe said it’s not stopping hikers from reaching the top as she had a hiker in her yard taking photos over the weekend.

Even though hikers have been cited for trespassing, Delos Reyes - Scaggs said they continue to be a nuisance in her neighborhood.

“It’s very upsetting you know we have people coming that parks in front of our house, our homes and leave their trash or use our neighbors’ hoses to wash themselves off.”

But with multiple rescues and trespassing hikers leaving messes, Delos Reyes-Skaggs wants the trailhead away from residential areas.

“I kind of want to know where’s the starting point, is it right here in my neighborhood?” asked Delos-Reyes – Scaggs. “Are they going to have a designated area where these drivers can park?”

The committee kept the proposal alive, but the final decision will likely be left to the incoming mayor and a new majority on the city council.

If approved, the reopening wouldn’t happen for several years.

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