Board of Water Supply considering the future of Haiku Stairs
Sometimes pictures don't do it justice.
"The experience is amazing, it's got everything. It's got the views, they call it Stairway to Heaven at least in part because it can be a spiritual experience. Often you're hiking into the clouds," Vernon Ansdell said.
Vernon Ansdell loves the view so much that he became President of the Friends of Ha'iku Stairs, but even he hasn't hiked it in years.
The steps that lead to the Ko'olau's ridges have been closed to the public since 1987, and Vernon wants to change that.
"We know from studies that have been done that people would be very willing to pay for this experience," Ansdell said.
However, without that happening, HPD has issued at least 20 trespassing citations this year alone, and over the last few years fire crews have done dozens of rescues.
Now because it's private property you can see there's a fence and there's a no trespass sign. The problem is, hikers are doing anything they can to get in, even if it means going into neighborhoods and cutting in peoples' yards.
Carol Gaudey lives right near one of the access points.
"They're wandering around, they can't find their way out and they're scared, and I'll see them at my back gate," Gaudey said. "I know some neighbors have gone out to their backyard and seen strangers using their hose, spraying off their muddy shoes."
Now The Board of Water Supply, which controls the land, knows something has to give.
"It's gone on for at least two decades right now, so we're trying to bring closure one way or the other," Ernest Lau of Board of Water Supply said.
The Board of Water Supply has completed a study which lays out three options for the future of the stairs. First, leave it as is, second get rid of the stairs altogether which could cost close to $1 million. Or the third option is to transfer the land to the City and charge entry fees, which could be used to maintain it.
It's something the Mayor's office has shown an interest in and has some excited, they would get to enjoy these views again without having to break the law.
The public is going to be able to comment on this now through August 7th before the Water Supply Board makes a decision, that process is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year.
The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is considering dismantling the Haiku Stairs or "Stairway to Heaven."
An environmental impact statement was released on Sunday that shows the stairs could be removed as early as 2022.
The hiking trail has been closed since 1987 but people continue to trespass and disrupt neighborhoods.
Getting rid of it would cost about $986,000 and the Board of Water Supply currently spends about $250,000 per year on security for the area.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell released this statement Monday in response:
"I have always wanted to preserve Haiku Stairs, but it's important to provide relief to the community around the entrance to the facility. And to ensure the experience is made safer for hikers and first responders. I hope the community will weigh in on the Draft EIS."
Public input is being welcomed until August 7, 2019.