Hawaii’s famed ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to be dismantled

Mayor Kirk Caldwell intends for a city department to take possession of the Haiku Stairs and...
Mayor Kirk Caldwell intends for a city department to take possession of the Haiku Stairs and explore possible private proposals to manage access.(Friends of Haiku Stairs)
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 9:03 AM PDT
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HAIKU VALLEY, Hawaii (KITV) -- After months of deliberation, the famous Haiku Stairs or ‘Stairway to Heaven’ will be dismantled.

That was the decision from the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday, June 1, when they approved the budget for Fiscal Year 2023.

Included in the budget, $1.3-million for the stairs’ demolition.

The budget now heads to Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s desk, where he has 10 days to sign.

“I absolutely plan on signing the budget bills,” said Blangiardi. “I mean, I feel like this budget here, which will really be the (Fiscal Year) 23 budget, is a budget that’s reflective of what we want to get accomplished. You know, up until now we’ve been adjusting and living with prior budgets, doing the best we can. This budget is reflective of our priorities.”

When it comes to the Haiku Stairs, Blangiardi said he fully intends to have them removed.

“As you know, I’ve said repeatedly, that initially I thought it was a good idea to keep them. As we looked into it, I began to understand the liabilities of the situation, the trespassing, the invasive species, and just a whole lot of other things. This is the right thing to do, and we’re going to do it.”

The Friends of Haiku Stairs, one of the most prominent advocacy groups in support of preserving the stairs says they are disappointed with the decision, but this isn’t the end of the road.

“We will have to work with the Mayor to see. Problem is it’s in this budget bill with so many other things that he wants to sign, so it’s hard to disengage that part of it but I’m hoping that we can still get some common sense in the City Council and Mayor,” said Ernest Shih.

Shih is a board member with Friends of Haiku Stairs, which is also planning a conference for the summer to bring all parties back to the table. The hope will be to find a path other than demolishing.

Friends of Haiku Stairs have made one proposal to manage the Stairs, making it publicly accessible to hikers which would remove the issue of trespassing.

KITV4 spoke with residents in the area following the decision. Some were happy to hear the Stairs will finally be coming down, while others were disappointed.

Residents shared the big issue is the trespassing and hikers being disrespectful of private property.

Many in favor of Friends of Haiku Stairs’ proposal, saying if hikers had legal access, it would remove the issue of trespassing.

Currently the City spends $250,000 annually to maintain security of the area surrounding the Stairs.

Previously, Councilmembers have justified the $1.3-million price tag is a long term investment ensuring future spending would no longer be of concern.

The budget will take effect July 1.

Right now there is no date as to when the Stairs could start to be dismantled, but it’s likely at least several months away.

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