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LADOT Says Homeowners Association Had Right to Take Down Signs

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Mock-up of a sign; a HHA-installed sign coming down last month, taken down by a LAUSD-approved contractor, image courtesy of Bruce Mahler
As the debate over how to handle tourist-related problems around the Hollywood Sign continues, a bit of news emerged yesterday that could clarify outstanding issues between some of the neighborhood groups working on a solution to the traffic mess. A Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman said the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association (HHA) had the right to personally remove those controversial tourist-directing signs.

Bruce Gillman, spokesman for LADOT said yesterday the signs belonged to the HHA. He doesn’t believe the association needed to tell the LADOT before taking them down.

The issue of the signs’ removal was brought up at Monday night’s Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC) subcommittee meeting. The meeting also followed weeks of accusations by some locals that the HHA had followed incorrect protocol by abruptly removing the signs (which were first installed by the HHA in early February).
From the city's point of view, "the [HHA] owns the signs,” said Gillman. Asked if there was a LADOT application removal process for taking down these type of signs, Gillman says he doesn't believe one exists. And while the LADOT worked with the HHA on the design and location of the signs, the LADOT didn’t install or remove the signs, according to Gilman. Instead, the name of a LADOT-approved contractor was suggested to the HHA for the installation and removal.

As far as what other city agencies might have required an application for both the application and removal of the signs, Michelle Vargas, spokesperson for the Department of Public Works, says under normal circumstances, an applicant goes through the Department of Public Works to apply for permits for signs that are in the public right of way. But in this case, the LADOT was helping lead the effort, according to Vargas, essentially going around the Department of Public Works. Vargas characterized the HHA's process of obtaining the signs as a "different" approach, but on the surface, not incorrect.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Ramsay, spokesperson for the City Councilman Tom LaBonge, said her office is aware of the ongoing effort by all groups to come solve the tourism issue. “The councilman will support whatever solution is agreed upon [by the neighborhood]," she said.
· Hacksaws and Other Solutions to Beachwood Hollywood Sign Tourism* [Curbed LA]