The Honolulu Board of Water Supply voted unanimously on Monday to transfer Haiku Stairs to the City and County of Honolulu.

Now the city has 18 months to take action or the trail will be removed.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said on Tuesday that the city intends to issue a request for proposals from potential private partners, although he said the project could hit a snag amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The steep pathway up the ridges of the Koolau Range has been plagued by trespassing hikers for decades. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2013

“How we roll this out next is going to take some thinking because of where we sit now,” he said.

Despite the stairway’s closure to the public in 1987, an estimated 4,000 people visit the 3,922-step hike every year.

The Board of Water Supply has wanted to rid itself of the liability and security costs and said last year it might tear the stairs down, but Honolulu volunteered to take over.

The mayor said he wants to address the concerns of community members who wanted the World War II-era stairs removed. Neighbors have long complained of tourists parking in their residential area and illegally traversing their properties to access the forbidden hike.

“We’re not looking to put a burden or impact on the people who live in the vicinity of Haiku Stairs,” Caldwell said.

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