Thursday, August 21, 2003

Haiku Stairs visitors
frustrate residents

They complain of blocked
driveways and trespassing

Haiku residents described their frustration yesterday with hikers trespassing through their yards and blocking their driveways to reach the closed Haiku Stairs.

About 100 people packed into a room at Windward Community College last night at a meeting called by state Rep. Ken Ito (D, Kaneohe). Most complained about people going to the stairs even though they remain closed.

Many said it would not be their first choice that the popular hike of 3,992 stairs up the Koolau Mountains be permanently closed, but insisted that the city or state must do more to protect their privacy if the stairs are opened.

While Haiku residents told tales of blocked mailboxes or garbage that cannot be picked up due to congested streets, residents of nearby Castle Hills said they fear they will get the same problems if the city follows through with a deal to provide access to the stairs via Hope Chapel church.

A plan for the church to provide parking spaces and restroom facilities for $1,500 a month remains in discussion between the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the city.

Castle Hills resident David Shinbara said he is concerned that even if the agreement is worked out, hikers will park in his neighborhood during hours when the church gates are closed -- including early mornings and holidays.

No city officials identified themselves at last night's meeting, which Ito said was for residents to express their concerns to state officials.

Representatives of the Hawaiian Home Lands, Land & Natural Resources and Transportation departments were present at Ito's request.

John Goody, president of the Friends of Haiku Stairs, said he empathized with residents who have been imposed upon.

He said he believes that temporary access through Hope Chapel, followed by a permanent access via the old Coast Guard station, will work for everyone.

"Haiku Stairs is a jewel in the crown of Oahu's environment," Goody said. "For 20 years, more than 200,000 people a year entered the Haiku Valley, and in all that time, with all those hikers, no serious injuries have occurred. It's far safer than many of our beach parks or other hikes."


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