City Taking Step Toward Managing, Charging Fees To Use Haiku Stairs

Feb 11, 2020

City and County of Honolulu officials are seeking information from organizations that may be interested in managing and operating a fee-based concession to use Haiku Stairs.

The stairs sits on Honolulu Board of Water Supply property in Kaneohe, but its future has been unclear. The board has said the steps represents a potential liability for the agency since hikers trespass on it. The board also noted maintaining the stairs didn't align with its mission to deliver safe water to its customers.

In a final environmental impact statement issued on Jan. 23, a consultant analyzed the board's proposal to dismantle the stairs, but it also presented options, including handing operation of the steps to a separate entity.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has expressed interest in the city taking over the Haiku Stairs as a recreational destination for visitors and residents. 

The city said Tuesday it had issued a request for information from groups that could manage and operate the stairs. It would then consider issuing bids from providers that could restore and maintain the stairs by charging fees for a self-sustaining operation.

Among other questions it posed, the city wants to know if a fee-based model could work, whether a five-year contract would be sufficient for an organization to recover its costs and whether there are minimum financial qualifications the bidders would need to meet.

"Haʻikū Stairs is a significant asset to the people of Oʻahu and it should [be] better managed, with a safe and controlled entry point that doesnʻt intrude on the surrounding neighborhood," Caldwell said in a news release.

"Public access to the Stairs for hiking and guided education experiences can help to preserve the history attached to it and to tell the stories of this special place for future generations," he said.

Caldwell said residents should be offered access at a reduced rate and that visitors should help cover the bulk of the costs.

The military built Haʻikū Stairs during World War II to transport equipment for a Navy radio transmission station in Haʻikū Valley. 

The deadline for request for information submittals is 4 p.m. Feb. 28. They must be received by the Office of the Purchasing Division, Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, City and County of Honolulu, 530 S. King St., Room 115, Honolulu, HI 96813.