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Honolulu mayor clears way for removal of Haiku Stairs after years of community debate

(Image: Friends of Haiku Stairs)
(Image: Friends of Haiku Stairs)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:18 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The famed Haiku Stairs in Windward Oahu, also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” will soon be torn down.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi approved the removal of the stairs Tuesday afternoon. He said in a statement concerns over public safety and access management led to the decision to remove the stairs for good.

“We recognize the interest the stairs have to certain community groups, however issues such as trespassing, personal injuries, invasive species and overall safety of the public cannot be ignored. Fundamentally, it is inappropriate to have a high-use tourist attraction entering through this residential neighborhood, which lacks in the capacity to provide appropriate facilities or parking,” Blangiardi said.

He added that the landowner near the base of the stairs had no interest in providing public access.

Blangiardi’s decision comes after the city council voted unanimously on a resolution last week in favor of removing the site.

[Read a related report: Save them or tear them down? The city is close to finally deciding the fate of Haiku Stairs]

President of Friends of Haiku Stairs, Vernon Ansdell, said he disagrees with the mayor’s decision.

“People keep saying it’s dangerous,” Ansdell said. “It’s a great example of a vocal minority, who are capable of making stuff up, and they just keep repeating it and repeating it, and this is what can happen.”

Earlier this year, $1 million in the city’s budget was allocated to dismantle the stairs. The city hasn’t yet provided a timeline for the removal of the stairs or when work will begin.

The trail has been off limits since 1987, but hikers and thrill seekers have continually ignored warning signs to access the scenic but illegal area.

The stairs were built by the Navy during WWII to access a top-secret military radio station.

Supporters pushed the city to keep the trail open under managed access, but councilmembers said that was just not feasible.

Hawaii News Now is gathering reaction. This story will be updated.

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