HONOLULU — The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has voted to transfer management of Haiku Stairs and the surrounding land to the City and County of Honolulu.
A unanimous vote by the seven-member board Monday backed the transfer of the popular mountainside attraction nicknamed the Stairway to Heaven.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell submitted a plan for the acquisition that includes allowing a contractor to manage the Haiku Stairs.
The water board gave city leaders a deadline of 18 months to complete the purchase or the board will remove the stairway in Kaneohe at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Until the deal is completed the board will continue to financing security to deter hikers at a cost of about $250,000 per year. About 10,800 people have been turned away from the metal stairs since 2017, officials said.
The stairs are part of a World War II-era military installation that has been officially closed to the public for decades.
The attraction is still visited daily by hiking enthusiasts and area residents have complained that some hikers trespass and vandalize their properties.
The staircase has caused injuries and costly rescues of hikers who ignore security guards and trespassing signs to climb it, officials said.
The water agency has long claimed its mission and use of ratepayer revenue is to provide a safe, dependable and affordable supply of water and cited liability as a prime reason for removing the stairway.
The decision by the water board to approve the management transfer followed written testimony from nearly as many people, 3,800, as there are steps, 3,922. About 3,600 people voiced support for maintaining the stairway.