Environmental report due on the Stairway to Heaven
Question: This past weekend we drove on H-3 in the middle of the day and saw several people climbing up the Haiku Stairs. Do you know the status of access?
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Question: This past weekend we drove on H-3 in the middle of the day and saw several people climbing up the Haiku Stairs. Do you know the status of access? Is it closed? Are there guards? What is the status of the BWS study?
Answer: Yes, the steep 3,922 steps ascending Oahu’s Koolau Range remain closed to the public and guarded against trespassing, although that offense obviously occurs. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply, which oversees the watershed property, expects to begin soliciting public comment soon, ahead of an environmental impact statement that will affect the stairs’ fate, but couldn’t say exactly when. Here is the full response to your questions from board spokeswoman Kathleen M. Elliott-Pahinui:
“Haiku Stairs has been closed to public access since 1987 and will remain closed out of concern for public safety. Although the Stairs was improved by the City in the early 2000s, it is not regularly maintained and inspected.
“The BWS presently stations a security guard at the base of the Stairs 24/7. The guard is there to turn hikers away for their own safety. The guard will also call the Honolulu Police Department when trespassers are caught on the Stairs or in the area immediately surrounding the Stairs. Under the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 708-815, those who are issued a citation by HPD are required to make a court appearance and may face fines up to $1,000, community service, and/or up to six months in prison.
“Managing access to the Haiku Stairs is not part of the BWS’s core mission. Our mission is to provide safe, dependable, and affordable water to our communities now and into the future.
“The BWS will be working on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Haiku Stairs. It has selected a consultant to prepare the EIS, negotiated the scope of work and fee, and awarded the contract. The consultant has drafted the EIS Preparation Notice (EISPN) to solicit comments from the community and stakeholders regarding issues and studies that should be included in the formal EIS. The BWS is working to resolve a couple of logistical issues before the EISPN can be released.”
We followed up to see how long it would be until the EISPN is released; a BWS spokeswoman said it would be released “soon” but could not give a precise timeline.
Proponents of reopening the Stairs decry that Oahu residents and visitors are deprived legal access to the strenuous hike and its panoramic views, but opponents say the aging structure is too risky for heavy use and that trespassing hikers disrupt the adjacent neighborhood on their way to the Windward access point.
According to the BWS website, 788 people have been issued citations and 12 people have been arrested at the Stairs since June 2014.
Q: Do they only clean up the homeless camps in town?
A: No. Oahu’s Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance and Stored Property Ordinance are enforced islandwide. For example, enforcement was scheduled today in Aiea and Waipahu.
I wanted to thank an English instructor at Kapiolani Community College who helped me when I fell Feb. 23. I was walking/jogging our pet dog around Diamond Head when I slipped and fell head first on a gravelly path. I received multiple scrapes and abrasions, hitting my head and landing on my ribs in the process. I was feeling dizzy and a little disoriented. Reed immediately came to my assistance. He helped me up and offered to take me to a first-aid station on campus. I told him I just wanted to get to my car. He then went out of his way and walked me and my dog to my car. I’m not sure if I could have made it on my own. A big mahalo to him. — A reader
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