Honolulu seeks private proposals to operate Haiku Stairs

HONOLULU — Honolulu requested proposals from private organizations interested in providing managed, fee-based access to its famed Haiku Stairs.

The city announced Tuesday that any interested party would need to restore, maintain and operate the Oahu staircase that attracts 4,000 people annually.

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“Haiku Stairs is a significant asset to the people of Oahu and it should be better managed, with a safe and controlled entry point that doesn’t intrude on the surrounding neighborhood,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a statement.

The stairs are part of a World War II-era military installation that has been officially closed to the public for decades.

The attraction is still visited daily by hiking enthusiasts and area residents have complained that some hikers trespass and vandalize their properties.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply owns most of the property where the stairs are located and said it spends $250,000 annually trying to deter trespassers.

The staircase has caused injuries and costly rescues of hikers who ignore security guards and trespassing signs to climb it, officials said.

A final Environmental Impact Statement issued last month restated the board’s intent to remove the stairs or turn them over to another government entity, citing ongoing liability and security costs.

The water board previously said it could cost about $1 million to remove the 3,922 steps along the side of the Koolau Mountains in Kaneohe.

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“The BWS’s mission is to provide Oahu residents with a safe, dependable, and affordable water supply,” said water board Chief Engineer Ernest Lau. “Managing Haiku Stairs draws BWS staff, financial, and other resources away from our core mission to efficiently and effectively meet the water demand of our customers.”

“If a solution for keeping Ha’iku Stairs cannot be achieved, then BWS will have no choice but to remove Ha’iku Stairs,” the environmental impact statement said.

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