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’m open to community-driven policing, but favor paid in-person security 24/7 in the short term until a longer-term solution is reached.
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?
I support transitioning to managed access, including strictly limiting the days and hrs of allowed access. I am also open to having a reservation and fee system for tourists that limits the number of tourists that can access the Stairway at any given time, and/or requiring that hikers have a professional guide or sign a waiver form. Native Hawaiian cultural pracitioners should have priority access.
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 support opening the H-3 access road to the public, including a bike path and the placement of limited parking that bypasses residential neighborhoods, and that has capacity controls including a managed parking entrance. In developing all of these programs, partnership with stakeholders in Haʻikū Valley and He'eia ahupua'a is critical.