As a kid growing up my friends and I would play soldier in the pillboxes of Lanikai

hillside or hide and seek in the haole koa. As a teenager I spent many a hot

summer day cooling off at Maunawili Falls. While the people that lived around

access points weren’t wild about the traffic, they tolerated it if you were

respectful; parked appropriately, cleaned up after yourself and were quiet as you

traversed the neighborhoods. Of course that was the 70’s and the 80’s. Flash

forward 40 years and the advent of the internet and social media have made

those local secrets common knowledge. As a result there has been an explosion

of people traversing residential communities to access these amazing places. This

is our new reality.

The people of these communities have borne the brunt of this new reality.

Traffic, parking, noise, trash and even human waste are the price these

neighborhoods bear. There are also environmental consequences of this

increased traffic. Trails get overwhelmed leading to erosion and run-off. Finally

there is a financial cost to all of us as taxpayers as HFD estimates rescue costs at

$1,500 per hour. While the environmental and financial costs are a concern, the

larger concern is looking out for our community members that are unfairly

impacted. Simply put our old ways can not meet the demand of our new reality.

This issue has come to a head with one of these locations, Haiku Stairs or Stairway

to Heaven, as the Board of Water Supply has deeded the iconic trail to the City

and County of Honolulu. How do we deal with this location and all the others like

it? While there is no one size fits all solution I believe we have a successful model

in Hanauma Bay. Decades ago Hanauma was also being over-run and decimated

by the volume of people visiting. A plan was put in place to restore the bay by

reducing the number of visitors, establishing an education program and

instituting supportive restrictions. While the carrying capacity of the stairs will

not support the same size and type of operation, this concept should be scalable.

I don’t know if this will end up being the solution for the Haiku stairs, but I do

know this. If elected to the City Council I will work to maintain access to our

special places, but I will not continue to do so if we can’t solve the burden our

fellow community members face.

© 2020 Friends of Greg Thielen


P.O. Box 757 Kailua, HI 96734

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