Haiku Stairs, or “Stairway to Heaven”, will not be torn down.
This comes on a 7-0 Honolulu Board of Water Supply Board of Directors vote to convey the land to the City and County of Honolulu.
“Convey that to the city, provided that the transfer occur within 18 months at which time — if the transfer is unsuccessful we’ll proceed with the Department’s recommendation to remove the stairs,” Board Chair Bryan Andaya said.
The decision comes on years of debate of what the BWS should do with the controversial and illegal hiking area, which has frustrated neighbors but thrilled hikers.
Ultimately, the BWS wanted to rid itself of liability, and projects to make $1,200,000 from the transfer of the land. Under current operations, they are spending $250,000 per year for security and maintenance, while they would spend $942,000 for full removal of the stairs and $120,000 for partial removal.
“So if we do tear it down, we’re still stuck,” Board member Max Sword said of liability.
The BWS members placed importance on a preferred access point at Po’okela Street, which they say would not be a nuisance to nearby neighborhoods.
“Upwards of 100 vehicles for parking,” G70 environmental impact statement author Jeff Overton said.
“Folks coming in via bus and there’s already a roadway through state land.”
The original motion was to be a year of time for a transfer to the city, but board member Ray Soon argued that more time would be needed as Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s term limit runs out at the end of the year.
“If we’re saying that it’s not our kuleana and we don’t have the skill set that should rest on them,” Soon said.
The city has already started exploring options to commercialize the stairs, looking into a third party to help take control and manage the operation. Nothing has been decided yet.