Asia LaVonne

U.S. Senator

Republican

FHS Candidate Questionnaire Responses

Many Haʻikū Valley residents are rightfully concerned about trespassing by hikers illegally accessing the Stairs. Trespassing is entirely a government-created problem caused by closing off access. When the Stairs were open to the public under the Coast Guard, trespassing was virtually nonexistent. Moreover, spending millions to remove the Stairs will not end trespassing. The City plans to leave behind the anchor pillars underneath the Stairs, providing a ready-made scaffolding that will encourage climbers to attach ropes and scramble to the summit. More effective solutions to trespassing merit exploration: As an interim measure, barriers could exploit natural chokepoints along the Stairs’ steep terrain. Combined with community-driven policing and smart technology, trespassing could be curtailed cheaply and effectively. The longer-term solution would be to reopen the Stairs, providing public access that alleviates the incentive to trespass and generates revenue to pay for ongoing security. What is your opinion of these cost-effective, public-private solutions to address trespassing?

I fully support reopening the Haiku Stairs to the general public under a safe, managed- access plan. Trespassing can be greatly reduced/eliminated by allowing citizens their right enjoy the Stairs. Cost-effective security measures are well within our capability to thwart trespassing attempts, and protect our ohana in neighboring communities.

The Ha‘ikū Stairs— aka “Stairway to Heaven”— originally built in the 1940s, is an iconic structure that has been used by visitors and residents as a safe way to ascend the Windward Ko‘olau peaks. The City intends to demolish this landmark soon. Stairs supporters and the majority of O‘ahu voters polled agree that the City should explore managed access alternatives before proceeding. What is your opinion?

Again, I fully support reopening the Haiku Stairs to the general public under a safe managed-access plan. Since 2020 much progress has been made in fixing any residual issues with the stairs and I believe there are more appropriate resolves to addressing any remaining, or potentially new, hazards than completely destroying this landmark. As for me, personally, I am a spiritual person that has not yet climbed the stairs and I feel I should not be deprived of that spiritual experience. I am sure there are others that feel the same way. As your Senator, I would like to make sure our State has appropriated federal funds to protect and preserve our right to enjoy ALL of our beautiful places, respectfully.

The surrounding land abutting the Ha‘ikū Stairs is owned entirely by state entities, including the H-3 access road. This road had been used to access and maintain the Stairs, but it is currently closed. The BWS 2019 Environmental Impact Statement recommended using the H-3 access road to provide public access to the Stairs, which would bypass residential neighborhoods. Other community groups have also expressed an interest in using the H-3 access road. For example, the road was listed as a potential bike path on the City & County of Honolulu’s 2012 Bicycle Master Plan. What are your views on opening the road to public use?

I would like to investigate ALL the underlying reasons as to why the H-3 access road is currently closed. However, if using the H-3 as public access road to the Stairs poses no threat to life or danger to the public, then I do not see why the H-3 cannot be considered to provide public access to the Stairs; especially if doing so will allow the public to access the Stairs without directly impacting residential neighborhoods.