State should not
refuse city’s offer
of Haiku Stairs


Mayor Hannemann has proposed to transfer to the state ownership of the 3,922-step "Stairway to Heaven."

MAYOR Hannemann's idea to hand over the Haiku Stairs to the state makes good sense and conforms to his principle of returning the city to its core functions.

The state would be better able to care for and oversee the trail and stairs. As a valuable recreational resource, it would be a perfect fit for the land department's established trails division, which has the breadth of expertise to tend and supervise its use that the city does not have.

For close to three years since an $875,000 renovation, the stairs that climb the Koolau Mountains above Haiku Valley have been blocked off because of problems with getting to the trailhead and with public parking.

The city has been trying to work out a deal to exchange land in the valley held by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to allow access, but legal issues with the city's parcel in Ewa have slowed the plan. A bill that would undo the snag has yet to clear the City Council.

The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay security guards to keep away trespassers, who jump fences, ignore warning signs and disturb nearby residents to get to the stairs through private property.

Hannemann's reasonable proposal includes returning two pieces of Haiku property previously deeded to the city by the state, assisting with Hawaiian home lands housing projects elsewhere and assuming maintenance work on certain state highway medians. The latter would help untangle the state-city jurisdictional lines that baffle and annoy the public and create inefficiency.

Unlike his predecessor, the mayor appears to recognize that decisions should be based on what's best for taxpayers rather than on a favorable image, impractical judgments that saddle the city with costly projects for which there is little money.

Governor Lingle has asked various departments to review Hannemann's overture, which might take some time since there are many matters to consider, including costs, safety and legal issues. However, it is an offer that should not be refused.

The 3,922-step "Stairway to Heaven," with its spectacular views from a 2,820-foot summit, has remained too long in limbo.

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