Local residents say illegal Stairway to Heaven hikers disturb neighborhood, create agency to manage hike

Written by: 
Adam Case
People hike the popular Haiku Stairs, commonly known as Stairway to Heaven, despite it being illegal. Local residents in the neighborhood where the entrance is located said those who do the hike often make loud noises and disturb their lives.
 
Ken Rose, a resident of the Haiku neighborhood who lives directly in front of one of the main entrances, said he has invested a lot of time in the issue. When asked about the general attitude towards hikers, he said, “What is the longest you have gone without sleep?” He mentioned that a lot of the residents have troubles sleeping due to the noise.  
 
The majority of the hikers arrive at around 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., said Rose. “A lot of them don’t know where they are going and make a lot of noise looking for the entrance.” Barking dogs, car noises, loud voices of excited hikers, and car headlights all contribute to the annoyance, he said.
 
According to the Huffington Post, the stairs are managed by the Board of Water Supply and have been closed to the public for more than 30 years. Local residents around the area said they have been trying to find an agency to take control of the stairs, but so far the only group to step forward is a nonprofit comprised of volunteers called Friends of Haiku Stairs. While the Board of Water Supply has been reportedly figuring out the cost of removing the stairs, Friends of Haiku Stairs want to “repair the damages, establish a management system for the stairs and charge visitors and locals a fee to climb them,” says its information.
 
The group wants to charge tourists $100 and $10 to Hawaii residents, which it believes are reasonable prices considering trespassing fines can be up to $600 and even six months in prison.
 
Rose said he and the other residents would be open to having the stairs opened, but because no organization has taken the responsibility, they would prefer the stairs be removed. He said he has compiled a graph and other data to present in the future on behalf of the residents.
 
Counting trespassers entering through one of the main entrances by his house, Rose said he has noticed a massive increase in hikers within the past few years. He said he thinks it’s due to viral news articles, video, and photos. He saw only 88 trespassers in October 2014 but counted 787 in January 2017. He has also recorded the amount of citations issued each year as reported by the HPD and said there were 135 in 2014 and 480 in 2016.
 
One person said he has completed the hike around 17 times and has had a mixed experience with the residents of the area. He said one resident angrily told him as he and his friends walked by, “You know your illegal hikers, right?” However, on a different occasion, another resident told him, “Enjoy the hike. It’s beautiful!” 
 
In order to avoid the notorious potential $1,000 fines, he and other hikers have gone as far as using a drone to check the road for authorities. 
 
Meli Lesuma with the Office of Honor said, “We believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” He said breaking the law is a violation of the Honor Code, and students have been issued warnings in the past for hiking the stairs.
 
Rose said as a final plea, “Please just be respectful. That is the second commandment, right? Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Date Published: 
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Note: This story was featured in the April 2017 print issue.