At issue are security concerns and vandalism, which have increased with the explosion in popularity of the Ha’ikū staircase on social media.
It is a case of saying that the Stairway to Heaven go to hell – and no, we’re not talking about Led Zeppelin’s music, but before the Ha’ikū staircase, in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
The origin of this work dates back to World War II, when the United States Navy used wooden ladders to move in the mountains during the construction of the Haʻikū radio station, which was used confidentially to send radio signals to military ships in the Pacific. The work has almost 4000 steps.
In the 1950s, the Coast Guard replaced wood with metal and the work was opened to the public in the 1970s. security concerns and vandalism and in 2002, the city of Honolulu spent nearly $900,000 on construction work to fully reopen visits.
However, the city has never ensured legal access to the public and hikers continue to climb the stairs without authorization. Fines for offenders reach up to $1000, but that doesn’t stop them, and around 4000 visitors annually venture to the site in search of selfies to post on social media.
The appearance in the TV series Magnum PI it also helped unlock this Hawaiian secret to the rest of the world and led to even more tourists starting to visit the stairway on a daily basis.
Because of this, last week the Honolulo municipal assembly unanimously passed a resolution to “remove the Ha’ikū stairs and ancillary structures to prevent trespass, reduce nuisance in local communities, increase public safety, remove potential liabilities to the city and protect the environment”.
“Due to the increase in illegal trespassing, Ha’ikū ladders are a significant responsibility and face to the city and affect the quality of life of residents up close”, said municipal deputy Ester Kiaaina.
But the decision had been announced for a long time. In 2019, the Honolulu water supply board, which owns the staircase, published a statement in which it made it clear that it is not responsible for the security costs of surveillance of the tourist attraction.
“At the end of April 2016, a swing has been illegally installed near the top of the Ha’ikū stairs, which poses life-threatening hazards,” the report details. Several tourists posted videos on the swing before it was removed.
In May, the police arrested 93 people for trying to get on the trail in just 10 days. Between August 2017 and March 2020, authorities dismissed nearly 11,500 people who were trying to climb the stairs.
The city has already set aside a million dollars to go ahead with the removal, but Mayor Rick Blangiardi has the final decision in his hands. However, the group “Friends of the Ha’ikū Stairs” protested the decision in front of the Chamber.
“Losing the stairs would be a catastrophe“, said President Vernon Ansdell, who proposes that public access be “managed” as an alternative.