Fines To Removal Plans: The Future Of Hawaii’s Stairway To Heaven

As of right now, there’s a fight to save the famed Stairway to Heaven, and its fate in Hawaii’s future is still uncertain.

For a long time, there have been efforts to keep hikers away from a stairway located in O’ahu, Hawaii but those efforts have proved abortive. Soon, authorities imposed a fine of $1000 on those caught hiking the stairs but the stairs were just too excellent a hiking spot for hikers to ignore so they came in even more. With disregard to the high fine, authorities who are now fed up with trying to ward off ants from the sugary spot have now come up with one plan – to rip the stairs off.

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About The Stairways To Heaven (Also known as Haiku Stairs)

During WWII, (a period which lasted from 1939 – 1945), the U.S. Navy in an effort to create a low-frequency transmitting radio station (for long-range communication), constructed the Haiku stairway to serve as a path for the positioning of special antennae high up the Ha’iku valley. After serving its main purpose, it was again used by the U.S. Coast guard after which the original wooden steps were replaced with more than 3,000 metal stairs.

For some time there was a brief monitored public access to the stairs but it was eventually closed in 1987 after the stairs saw some damages and were considered to be a dangerous path for the increased number of hikers who sought to walk the stairs.

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The Structure Of The Decades-Long Debate Around The Haiku Stairs

In the early 2000s, there were efforts to set up the stairs for recreational purposes but financial inconveniences and complaints by locals soon brought the plans to a halt and the stairs remained closed.

Violation Of The Closure

Even with its closure, the stairways to heaven remained a hot hiking spot for many hikers who sneaked past the guards to get their share of the thrill and the scenery at the Puu Keahiakahoe peak where the stairs end. With the popularity of social media, hikers could now share photos and videos of their exciting experiences on the stairs. This eventually resulted in the worldwide popularity of the stairways to heaven and the increase in hikers. With this, the debate was getting more intense and it was only a matter of time before some difficult and final decisions had to be made.

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Removal/Destruction Plans

The intentions to remove the stairways had been cooking for a long time due to the continuous trespassing and reports by locals who were affected by the hikers. In July 2020, after ownership of the stairways was transferred to the City of Honolulu by The Board of Water Supply, there was a little bit of hope for hikers as the City revealed plans to save the stairs from destruction and hopefully make it a public attraction. That glimmer of hope was soon put out again after the city council voted to rip off the adventurous stairs mainly because of safety and inconvenience to the environment.

Safety/Dangers Of The Stairways To Heaven

The stairways to heaven have for a long time been branded as “dangerous” and this has become its description for many but the definition of “dangerous” in this case is hard to understand. Since its closure in 1987, and before the time of Facebook and Instagram, the stairways have been a hiking spot for thousands and there has been no reported casualty or serious injury directly caused by an accident on the stairs.

There was; however, a reported case in 2012 when 62-years old Fritz Hasenpusch – a Don Tiki show singer and comedian died of a heart attack while hiking the haiku stairs. Interestingly, comments from the artist’s family and friends (who were involved in the hike) after the death included – “He simply collapsed while taking a rest” and “He died in a beautiful place without any prolonged pains.”

Oppositions To The Destruction/Removal Of The Stairway To Heaven

A voluntary group known as – Friends of Haiku Stairs, has for a long time since the late 19th century made efforts to prevent the destruction of the Haiku stairs. The group strongly stands in opposition to the destruction of the stairs and maintains that it has definite plans to safely reopen and run the stairs under managed access while dealing with all the concerns that have been cited by the city as the reasons for the destruction of the stairs. This plan has been created and distributed as a PDF file and is also displayed on the Friends of Haiku Stairs official site as well.

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Recent Developments

In September 2021 the mayor of the city gave the order to remove the stairs and this sparked outrage in lots of communities including (of course) the Friends of Haiku Stairs who have earlier organized a fundraising program to seek the support of individuals all over the world in the fight to prevent the destruction of the stairs and also reopen it.

As early as 2o22, the haiku stairs are scheduled to be destroyed and up to $1 million have been budgeted for this cause. As the destruction plans and the opposition keeps riding down the hill on a skateboard, individuals from all over the world interested in this issue can only watch or join in the fight to preserve the Haiku stairs.

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