Resolution to remove Haiku Stairs moves through Honolulu City Council

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s been an uphill battle for decades between community concerns and supporters of the Haiku Stairs. Now, Honolulu City Councilmember, Esther Kia’aina is trying to find a solution through a new proposal.

Kiaaina is asking the City to dismantle the stairs. She says it’s something the community has been asking for and deserves to be considered.

“I would like to think that for all the lessons learned from the pandemic, with regard to the impact of unsustainable tourism on our communities, it is high time that we prioritize the quality of life for local residents,” said Honolulu Council Vice Chair Esther Kia’aina.

Under the previous City administration, plans were put in place to try to commercialize the stairs by having a private vendor take over access to the stairs.

“I don’t know which entity it would be, but someone to take over the stairs and be in charge of the maintenance of the stairs, be in charge of the access to the stairs and find some mutual agreement,” Mo Radke, Kaneohe Neighborhood Board member.

However, Kia’aina says the risks out weigh the rewards.

“It’s hard for me to believe that that will be successful,” said Kiaaina.”Even if there was a vendor who would be charged with say managing the stairs, that will not stop people from illegally trespassing.”

Between June 16 and June 30, more than 70 citations were issued to hikers trespassing on the stairs. Five people were arrested. All the while, Kiaaina says taxpayers are footing an expensive bill.

“Every year, the Department of Parks and Recreation provides $250,000, for special HPD units to provide for enforcement for those who are trespassing,” Kiaaina said.

Her proposal to dismantle the stairs is estimated to cost $1 million.

For now, the City is still weighing its options.

“We believe there are solutions out there that can best balance the desire to maintain parts of the stairway for recreational use, while reducing the impact to the surrounding community which has dealt with the adverse effects of this closed trail for decades. Impacts which should not be ignored.

Laura H. Thielen, Parks Director

There will be two more opportunities for public testimony on the resolution later in July.

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