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Mayor Blangiardi acknowledges a "plan to work with Kualoa Ranch"

Updated: Jun 24

The City's plans to remove the Haʻikū Stairs have assumed a new twist. Evidence suggests there may be a secret backroom deal to transfer the Stairs to Kualoa Ranch. City attorneys and spokesmen have repeatedly denied such a plan exists. Yet, Mayor Blangiardi himself publicly acknowledged it in April 2023.

This video shows the mayor speaking at the Kalani Town Hall meeting on April 13, 2023. He describes a “plan to work with Kualoa Ranch” to move the Stairs there.

In court filings, City attorneys offered shifting explanations for the Mayor’s remarks. They first claimed the Mayor was referring to a different staircase. Then, they argued he was only speculating about a possible “aspiration.”  Then, they argued that the City’s contract with Nakoa Company, the demolition contractor puts the issue beyond the City’s control. However, the City has failed to disclose the contract or address possible side-deals cut by City leaders. The City insisted, categorically, in a public court filing that the “Stair modules are not being installed at Kualoa Ranch” on September 5. As recently as November 3, the City continued to characterize any suggestions that the Stairs might end up at Kualoa as “absurd.” Finally, on December 5, the City conceded in court that a Kualoa deal “may” in fact have been agreed on.

City taxpayers will be asked to spend over $4 million to remove the Stairs, wreaking untold environmental harm while burdening residents with two years of helicopter overflights. By the City’s own account, the upside will flow to private companies. Nakoa will receive the proceeds from sale of the Stairs modules—the very same modules that City taxpayers paid Nakoa almost a million dollars to repair back in 2003. And Kualoa Ranch stands to gain a priceless, historic asset for its exclusive commercial use. A unique and world-class hiking experience accessed by the public for generations will be removed from its historic location and converted to a “visitor attraction” reserved for high-spending tourists.

All of this could take place without any scrutiny or public disclosure under Hawaiʻi environmental law. Hawaii residents deserve to know the true facts about the City’s plans for the Stairs. Friends of Haʻikū Stairs are fighting to uphold public transparency and oppose corporate giveaways.

Protect public property. Protect the Stairs. Please donate.

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