Stairs Transferred to City | April 27, 2020 Public Hearing | Final EIS

BWS Board Transfers Ha‘ikū Stairs to the City

HONOLULU, JULY 1, 2020 – The Board of Water Supply (BWS) has transferred ownership of Ha‘ikū Stairs and all the land around it to the City and County of Honolulu. The transfer is official as of today, July 1, 2020. City will now be responsible to maintain security until an operator is chosen.

Manager Ernest Lau stated, “We are pleased to have our Board make a decision that allows us to move forward and ultimately remove liability from BWS. We have been working closely with the City to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities”.

Mayor Caldwell stated, “Ha‘ikū Stairs is world famous as one of the most breathtaking hikes in the world. I’m very pleased that we will be able to save this treasured site from being torn down. We are working on a request for bids, and our goal is to select a private company or organization that will provide a safe and well managed access to the stairs; equally important is to relieve the surrounding community from the negative impacts that have plagued them for decades.” The Mayor continued, “We know with the right operator, Ha‘ikū Stairs can be opened safely, preserving this unique experience and cultural resource.”

department of parks and recreation

Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR)

If you have questions or comments, contact DPR by:

- Phone: (808) 768-3003
- Email:
- Online

Haiku Stairs Public Hearing

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020 – Watch the recording of the public hearing and regular meeting of the board of directors for the Board of Water Supply. This meeting took place on Monday, April 27, 2020, from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, during which the board members took up the issue of Haiku Stairs. The meeting was also shared via Facebook Live and on the BWS website. This meeting will also air on OLELO49 on the following dates:

  • Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 7:00 PM - OLELO49
  • Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:00 PM - OLELO49
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 10:00 PM - OLELO49
  • Monday, May 25, 2020 - 2:00 PM - OLELO49



- By Email
- By Online Form

When the testimony call-in line is open for the public hearing or for each item on the regular meeting agenda, callers will be placed in queue and brought up to testify one at a time.

A live video conference station is available in the lobby of the BWS main offices at 630 S. Beretania Street.
Testifiers may show up and register to testify by video. Face covering is required in order to enter the building (Emergency Order 2020-07). Social distancing guidelines will be observed and testifiers will be brought into the building one at a time.

BWS Takes Up Haiku Stairs at April 27 Board Meeting

TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2020 – The Board of Water Supply’s (BWS) board members will take up the issue of Haiku Stairs at their April 27, 2020, board meeting.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published on January 23, 2020, and the 60-day challenge period ended in March 2020. While the FEIS did provide a thorough analysis of the alternatives, the BWS’s preferred action is removal of the stairs. Chief Engineer and Manager Ernest Lau stated, “The BWS’s mission is to provide Oahu residents with a safe, dependable, and affordable water supply. Managing Haiku Stairs draws BWS staff, financial, and other resources away from our core mission to efficiently and effectively meet the water demand of our customers.”

BWS will be providing a number of options for submitting testimony. All testimony received in advance of the meeting will be posted at

Board Chair Bryan Andaya stated, “We know that this is matter of great significance and interest for the community, and we want to ensure all those who wish to testify will be given the opportunity.”

In addition to offering video conferencing and call-in testimony, the board has moved the start time of the meeting from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm so the public can “attend” the board meeting by watching Facebook Live on the BWS Facebook page or on their website at:

For questions regarding the board meeting or Haiku Stairs, please call Kathleen Pahinui at (808) 748-5319.

It is expected the board will take action at the April 27 meeting.

Update: The Office of Environmental Quality Control is now the Environmental Review Program, which continues to publish The Environmental Notice.

Haiku Stairs Study Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS)

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2020 – The Final Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Ha‘ikū Stairs will be published on Thursday, January 23, 2020 by the Office of Environmental Quality Control in The Environmental Notice. 

Related Links

Haiku Stairs Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS)

SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2019 – The Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) is inviting members of the public to comment on and to provide input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Haiku Stairs. The DEIS appeared in the June 23, 2019 issue of The Environmental Notice from the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC). Feedback from the community will be accepted until 11:59 PM HST on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

haiku stairs map
Imagery ©2015, DigitalGlobe, Public Laboratory

Project Location:

Haiku, Heeia, Koolaupoko, Oahu, Hawaii

Tax Map Key (TMK):

(1) 4-6-015:011

Land Area:

224.756 acres

State Land Use District:

Conservation District, Protective Subzone

City and County of Honolulu:

Zoning (Land Use Ordinance)
P-1 Preservation

About Haiku Stairs

The Haiku Stairs – also known as Stairway to Heaven – are comprised of 3,922 steps that extend from Haiku Valley to the ridge line of the Koolau Range and connects to a trail in Moanalua Valley. Originally built in the 1940’s by the U.S. Navy to access radio communications antennae facilities along the ridge line. The U.S. Coast Guard converted the facility into the Omega navigation station, which served an active facility from 1975 to 1991. In 1987, the Coast Guard closed the Haiku Stairs to the general public due to vandalism and liability concerns.

No Legal Access from Any Direction

The land under and surrounding Haiku Stairs is currently owned by the BWS. The stairs also straddle the ridge lines of adjoining landowners, namely the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

In 2005, the City renovated Haiku Stairs, with the intent of re-opening it to the public; however, legal access could not be established at the time. Haiku Stairs continues to remain off limits. Thus, contrary to posts found on social media, blogs, and various websites (hiking, travel, local activities, lifestyle, health and wellness, and general interest), there is no legal access to Haiku Stairs from any direction. Those attempting to reach the stairs face multiple counts of trespassing and risk endangering their lives and those of emergency first responders.

Haiku Stairs is Off Limits to Military Personnel

The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board (AFDCB) declared Haiku Stairs as off limits to members of the Armed Forces. This restriction remains in effect indefinitely in accordance with established Armed Forces policy.

BWS spends approximately $250,000 annually for guard services at the base of Haiku Stairs and for special duty police officers to deter hikers from climbing them. The Honolulu police and fire departments also continue to absorb the costs of trespassing enforcement and rescue operations.

Hawaii Revised Statutes
Section 708-815

haiku stairs signhaiku stairs sign

Haiku Stairs, as well as Kalihi Ice Ponds, Nuuanu Reservoir No. 4, and Waihee (Hamama) Falls, is located on watershed areas owned and/or managed by the BWS. Anyone attempting to reach these locations would be trespassing. Those issued a citation by the HPD are required to make a court appearance and may face fines up to $2,000, community service, and/or up to six months in prison.

Public Trail Options: Na Ala Hele Trail & Access Program

Residents and visitors may enjoy the beauty of the Hawaiian islands on one of the many legal hiking trails that are available to the public. For information about open trails and their current conditions, please visit the Na Ala Hele Trail & Access program website at

na ala hele trail access program website

Updated: 07/01/2020; 01/10/2023