BWS working to tighten security at Stairway to Heaven

Despite fences, a security guard, and warning signs, people continue to break the law by hiking Haiku Stairs, also known as Stairway to Heaven.

But sneaking in is about to get more difficult.

Ken Rose lives in Kaneohe near one of the entry points.

KHON2 asked: “How bad does it get?”
Rose replied: “I counted last Saturday between three hours in the morning 86 hikers come down, all making noise, making trash, general nuisance.  Some were quiet, some were respectful but majority were just noisy and intrusive.”

The entry point is also near Ke Kula ‘o Samuel M. Kamakau School which is a small Hawaiian immersion school.

“The disruptions to our campus are daily,” said parent Mehana Hind.  “We’ve had a couple of instances where the hikers have had run-ins with our students and our parents too because we use the roadway to bring our children to school and take them home from here.”

The Board of Water Supply started managing Stairway to Heaven earlier this year because it has a well and the watershed in the area.

BWS recently added gravel at the start of the trail, and the formerly muddy area will become a staging area for project to install better fencing and more signage to warn trespassers they’re on private property.

“This is an effort to address an ongoing problem with hikers illegally entering the property.  Haiku Stairs is just one of many BWS properties receiving security upgrades,” BWS Spokesperson Jill Kuramoto said.

“As a Neighborhood Security Watch and our community, we think that is great,” Rose said.

“Very happy the Board of Water Supply is stepping in taking some responsibility how they can best manage that site,” Hind said.

“Either we convene a working group, bring people together, give them 90 days to come up with a solution or we remove the stairs.  That would be my proposal,” said Honolulu Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who represents that area.

Anderson said dismantling the stairs would cost at least $500,000.   That’s what the City Department of Parks and Recreation told the Honolulu City Council several years ago.

Even though BWS manages it, the City still owns Stairway to Heaven, and it would ultimately be up to the City to decide what to do with it.

“Our ultimate recommendation is for the City and County to make a safe and controlled access way because it’s a beautiful area and everyone should be able to enjoy it safely,” Rose said.

“Mayor Caldwell continues to seek a solution that could allow the public to safely access Haiku Stairs from a new access point away from the residential neighborhood and shield taxpayers from liability issues.  In the meantime the stairs remain closed and trespassers can be cited by police,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Communications Director Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.

“We’re not against the people enjoying our spaces here in Hawaii.  That’s not what, we’re not anti that, but we’re just concerned about our school,” Hind said.

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