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Hawaii’s infamous ‘Stairway to Heaven’ one step closer to removal


The Haiku Stairs, or the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, is one of Honolulu’s most popular hikes. It is also an illegal one and can result in a US$1,000 fine. 

 

But social media has made many risk the fine (and their safety) to get a picture of what looks like walking into the clouds. The view back is pretty impressive too. 

 

Last week, the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to remove the stairs to inhibit trespassing (and hence potential liability to the city). The move would also reduce disturbances to local neighbourhoods, increase public safety, and protect the environment, Hawaii News Now reported.

 

“Due to rampant illegal trespassing, Haiku Stairs is a significant liability and expense for the city, and impacts the quality of life for nearby residents,” council member Ester Kiaaina said.

 

According to lawmakers, proposals to reopen the stairway through a managed-access contract have not been feasible.

 

In justifying the removal of the stairs, council members cited the rising maintenance bills in the upkeep of the unintentional attraction. 

 

“The city has already spent nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to remodel the stairs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs.,” council member Brandon Elefante said.

 

The stairs were reportedly built to access a top-secret Navy radio station to communicate with ships in the Pacific during World War II. The city of Honolulu has owned the site since 2020.

 

Locals have mixed opinions about the removal of the stairs, some complaining about trespassing and litter left behind. 

 

One Haiku resident told Hawaii News Now that during a community stakeout, 191 trespassers were counted between 9am and 6pm.

 

But others aren’t so happy. “To lose the stairs would be a catastrophe," Vernon Ansdell of the Friends of Haiku Stairs, told KITV

 

"This is a priceless Windward treasure. And they must not be destroyed."

 

The fate of the stairs rests with Mayor Rick Blangardi and his approval of the budget.

 

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Published: 13 September 2021

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