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City Council Urges Blangiardi Administration to Remove Haʻikū Stairs

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The Honolulu City Council has passed a measure urging the city to dismantle the steps at a popular and closed hiking trail known as Stairway to Heaven.

Councilmembers voted unanimously Wednesday in support of Resolution 21-154 which asks the city to remove the Haʻikū Stairs and its accessory structures. Four councilmembers voted with reservations.

Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina introduced the resolution and represents the windward side of Oʻahu where the trail is located.

"Many do not realize the city does not own the lands that lead to the stairs, and it does not own all the lands under the stairs," she explains. "After two decades, there is still no clear path forward to secure legal access with the many landowners."

"The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has made clear that it is uninterested in allowing a managed access program on its lands — including its lands under the stairs and its lands to access the stairs. It wants to protect its tenants which includes children of a Hawaiian language immersion school. And it is not in the business of facilitating and overseeing recreational programming," Kiaʻāina stated.

City resolutions are nonbinding, so Mayor Rick Blangiardi's administration has the final say on removing the Haʻikū Stairs.

The resolution had received support from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, among others. Statements in opposition were received from the Friends of Haʻikū Stairs, the Hawaii Historical Trails Association, and more, a July 20 committee report said.

The city's 2021-2022 budget set aside about $1 million for removal, according to the resolution.

In August, HPR's The Conversation explored the history behind the stairs before the city council vote.

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