City to Stairs: Tear Them Out

As many of you may have heard, despite overwhelming testimony opposing removal of the Ha‘ikū Stairs, on September 11th the City Council voted 9-0 to remove. Four days later, Mayor Blangiardi said he would do just that.  Echoing the City Council’s talking points, the mayor said that managed access won’t work – probably because neither one of them ever bothered to learn what managed access is.  A profile in courage it was not.

 

Unlike them, we are not going to quit on you.  Until all the approvals are obtained, it will probably be 1-2 years before they can tear the Stairs out.  We still have time to save the Stairs, but we have to act now, and act decisively. The Friends of Ha‘ikū Stairs will shortly be announcing a serious fundraising campaign, with funds to be used to develop and implement a worldwide print and social media campaign--including a short documentary--to rally the public to save the Stairs (you can, of course, already donate through our web site).  And we will be organizing a demonstration in the very near future to kick things off, to let our public officials know they can’t blow off their responsibilities to protect our resources.

 

Obviously, the situation is very dire.  We have an urgent need for volunteers to help us with the above, particularly those of you with skills in social media and event organizing.  Please contact us using the form below to let us know how you can help.  Mahalo.

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#SaveTheStairs
Friends of Ha'ikū Stairs advocate reopening the Ha'ikū Stairs under managed access. 

Volunteer Application Form

Give us a hand to help make an immediate difference

**Please Note: The stairs are currently closed and illegal to access, no matter how you access them. We do not provide information that will aid people in breaking the law**

Managed Access to Save the Stairs

The following Concept Plan outlines how The Friends of Ha'ikū Stairs would run the Stairs under managed access in order to save the Stairs, mitigate potential risks, and best serve the public interest.

Please feel free to download the Plan and see for yourselves how managed access is not only feasible, but also the best way forward for the Stairs.
 

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#SaveTheStairs
Friends of Ha'ikū Stairs advocate reopening the Ha'ikū Stairs under managed access. 

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Imagery ©2015, DigitalGlobe, Public Laboratory

Ha'ikū Stairs: IN THE NEWS

As we work hard to save the Haʻikū Stairs from imminent destruction, see how our message in support of a managed access solution is making news. Click on each image to link to the original article.

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Over the years, when a public attraction has resulted in trespassing or other problems as a means of entrance, we have not solved the problem by simply destroying the attraction. Instead, we have worked out a suitable access. We see this in our rights of way to get to beaches, suitable routes to trailheads, even planned rerouting of a North Shore highway in order to view turtles. But for the Haiku Stairs, we spend a million to destroy it?

I happen to be a resident of the neighborhood adjacent to the Stairs. We are not all opposed to the Stairs, as the media might lead one to think. Indeed, it is a very limited number of residents who have had their properties trespassed upon by hikers. Nevertheless, no one at all should have to endure trespassing, and for that reason, none of us who want to save the Stairs envisions a hiking route through a residential neighborhood. This is not even an issue.

Years ago, a task force of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board worked out an access to the Stairs that did not pass through any residential area. Starting with parking in Kaneohe’s District Park, it proceeded through state-owned and unused wooded areas to the H-3 Freeway service road and then to the Stairs.

In the meantime, however, the terms of both our mayor and our City Council member, both of whom had solidly supported the Stairs, expired — and their successors were less interested. Other routes have been suggested as well. Currently the Friends of Haiku Stairs has proposed a route that would also include managed access. This, too, has been ignored.

Other objections to the Stairs are very questionable. First of all, the Stairs are not unsafe for the public; to the contrary, they have the best safety record among our island trails. (Contrast this to the frequent fatalities at our beaches.)

Secondly, if invasive species are a problem, as the mayor cited, then we’d need to close every trail on the island as well. Also, it was mentioned that the primary landowner at the Stair’s base is not interested in providing access — however, it is only state government agencies that sit on land in the valley, not private entities.

Finally, it is not just a matter of tourists being attracted to the Stairs; a great many of our local people have climbed the Stairs or hope to do so. From the summit, there is a new appreciation of the sheer glory and beauty of this island upon which we live. For those who have made the climb, there are almost none who would have it destroyed for others. And those who would destroy the Stairs, for the most part, have never climbed them.

 

It was under federal administration that many of us got to legally climb the Stairs. Ironically, once the property passed to local control, the entrance gate to the valley was locked, high fences built, guards hired and police utilized — and locals kept out.

Every day from my home I can see the Stairs, and long for the day when I and my children can legally climb them again. In the past, local government, to its credit, has devised suitable access to popular attractions. But this time, the choice is destruction? Sad. Costly. And unnecessary.

Bill Cunningham is retired as a teacher in public secondary schools here, and has served as a member and vice chairman of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.

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29th September 2021

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**Please Note: The stairs are currently closed and illegal to access, no matter how you access them. We do not provide information that will aid people in breaking the law**

Why Save the Stairs? 

 

Here are some key reasons:

 

  1. As per the findings of the BWS's DEIS: “The Haʻikū Stairs was built in the 1940s, is defined as a historic property per §6E-2, HRS, and retains its historic integrity.” (Vol 2, p. 701). Why would you destroy a historic structure, especially if you could repair it for less?

  2. The Haʻikū Stairs represent one of the safest hiking trails in Hawaii. There having been no documented serious injuries or deaths resulting from accidents on the Stairs

  3. Reopening the Stairs under managed access would provide unique, internationally recognized, educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities and save one of the world’s top 10 best hikes on the National Geographic Endangered Trails list.

  4. The Kāneʻohe Neighborhood Board resolved in May 17, 2017 to support reopening the stairs under a controlled and managed access plan that respects the privacy rights of residents of the Haʻikū Village neighborhood

  5. We have read the DEIS report and we agree that managed access (conveyance alternative) is by far the best alternative with a total score of 7 good as compared to removal with a score of only 4.

  6. FHS has a managed access plan in place that is in alignment with the recommended Poʻokela Street access route and can be adjusted to meet all the listed concerns.

  7. FHS has years of experience leading people on legal maintenance climbs on the stairs, carrying out repairs to individual modules, controlling invasive species, and mitigating run-off concerns. 

What We Do
PETITION the Board of Water Supply & the Mayor

We started a petition on Change.org in 2015 in order to garner support for Saving the Stairs. By July 2nd 2019 when we delivered our petition to the Board of Water Supply, and handed a second copy to the Mayor's office, our petition included 11,650 signatures of support, as well as 171 pages of comments from supporters. Mahalo to all of you who contributed towards this effort.

REACH OUT to the community and to local representatives

Our board members sit on community groups and liaise with local representatives to promote managed access as a sensible alternative to destruction. We make presentations at conservation group meetings and discuss our vision for the future of the Stairs and Ha'ikū Valley with local community groups with with the goal of Saving the Stairs and its environment for current and future generations.

RALLY FOR SUPPORT 

We hold rallies and events in order to raise awareness for the plight of the Stairs. Through sign-waving and public events such as the Save the Stairs rally at Hawaiian Brian's in 2019, we show that there is widespread support for saving this historic and much-treasured monument.

How We Do It

THROUGH THE SALE of Merchandise

Friends of Ha'ikū Stairs is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization. All proceeds go directly to our mission to protect the Ha'ikū Stairs and its environment for current and future generations. Your purchases are tax-deductible. Prices include shipping and packaging to all US locations. Please contact us for international orders.

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Contact Us

 

Fill our the form below to send us a message. Mahalo.

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Ha'ikū Stairs aka Stairway to Heaven