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Board of Water Supply has voted unanimously to transfer management of Haʻikū Stairs to the City & County of Honolulu

Reporting by KITV4 Island News

Monday, April 27th 2020, 10:28 PM HST by Nicole Tam


After nearly three hours of testimony, the seven-member Board voted on Monday night. By unanimous decision, they backed the idea of transferring management of the controversial hiking trail to the City and County of Honolulu. What to do is one thing, how to do it is another. About 3,600 people submitted testimony over the past two weeks and more than 2,000 alone this past weekend.

The board also decided it has 18-months to complete the transfer. If it's not done by then the stairs will be torn down. Until then, the board will continue financing security to deter hikers, that's about $250,000 per year. The big concern is safety and liability of the stairs in its current condition.

Some of the people who testified this evening later told KITV4 they still hike the trail even though they know it's closed.

"There are so many other options when just turning them down. I just feel like there's not enough goodwill, leadership and courage in our administration. Not enough coordination. I just hope the stairs are given another chance," Niko Denpikor, in support to keep the stairs, said.

Residents who live near the trail also told KITV4 they're tired of seeing people trespassing to access a trail that's supposed to be off-limits.

"It was built for military, well fit people. Maybe two at a time for repairs. It's not built as a tourist attraction. It's not built for people to go up and down all day long. The trash and the garbage is immense. They're not going to manage that," Allen Walterman, [who] lives near Haiku [sic] Stairs, said.

Haiku Stairs was built in 1942, initially to access a top secret naval radio station. It's been closed to the public since 1987. With Monday's vote, there is a chance for people to enjoy the stairs legally in the future. Meantime, it remains closed and illegal to access.

**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**

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

About Us

     Friends of Haʻikū Stairs was formed as a non-profit group in 1987 in order to protect the historic Haʻikū Stairs. That mission has never been more critical. The Mayor has said that he would like to take the Stairs from BWS and operate them under managed access, but he is not going to make a controversial and politically risky decision unless he knows the public is behind him.  That’s where you come in. If you want to save the Stairs, you have to do it. If you’re hoping someone else is going to do it, you’ll wake up one day and they’ll be gone. So now is the time to tell the Mayor how important the Stairs are to you, and why they must be saved for future generations. We have listed below some points that you might want to make, but it’s also very important that you state what the Stairs mean to you, on a personal and emotional level. 

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

We started a petition on 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.


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.

Contact Us


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

Why Save the Stairs? 


These are some of the 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. 

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