Steven Sparks

U.S. Representative, District 2

Democratic

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?

Trespassing is always a problem and barriers are not always the solution. The Ha‘ikū Stairs have been a community asset for decades and should be managed by the Community. the "Stairway to Heaven" thought gives the feeling what a special place this par of our island is and should be supported by good planning and proper utilization for the benefit of both the neighborhood and the visitors. My question as your Representative would be 1. What is the plan and does it have the necessary infrastructure, ie; parking and greeting area plus safe structuring of stairs. and 2. Is the team in place to manage the landmark?

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 would have to ask, Why demolition? Who is driving this process? What do they get out of the demolition? This historic monument to the beauty of our island is a reminder of times past that need to be remembered. The City needs to restore and develop a management plan to keep giving us beauty and 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?

As part of the Ha‘ikū Stairs restoration plan there needs to be proper access and parking and overlook. If the public road is available why wouldn't we use it?