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Hollywood Sign Viewing Spot Wars: LaBonge and Neighbors Discuss Gondolas, Giant Ferris Wheels, and Trashcans

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HOLLYWOOD: It was a packed house in Hollywood today (with lots of reporters and news trucks) for a meeting about Hollywood Sign tourism and how to deal with it. The issue of course has been raging for most of this year, turning Beachwood Canyoners against each other and occasionally leading to anti-tourist signage and other nastiness. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge hosted public comments this afternoon, then answered questions along with reps from the LAPD, LAFD, and parking enforcement. People from several Hills neighborhoods surrounding the Sign spoke, mostly all concerned with the same issues that Hollywoodland (ie upper Beachwood Canyon) has been facing: tourists clogging the narrow streets, often smoking and littering and creating fire and safety hazards. LAFD Battalion Chief Joseph Castro said in fact that Hollywoodland is in no worse a situation than any other Hills neighborhood (he cited Runyon Canyon as being more troublesome), and said that one of the biggest problems in Hollywoodland is construction trucks.

Lots of possible solutions were thrown out. One tour bus operator suggested a sign saying that Beachwood is only open to residents (he admitted that wouldn't actually be true) and only allowing tourists to go up in tour buses. A few people brought up private security, repaving, and better signage--many of the "no smoking" signs have faded and many of the tourists don't speak English. One speaker asked about gating the neighborhood, but LaBonge said the homeowners would have to buy the streets to make that happen. And yes, someone brought up a gondola, in this case from Griffith Park's Travel Town up to Mount Lee, behind the sign. LaBonge took a quick vote and the idea didn't have much support. One resident made an obvious but important point: the city needs to start treating the Hollywood Sign like it's a tourist destination (for now, he said, they can at least add trash cans to the area).

LAPD's senior lead officer for the area, Maggie Dillard, also stated the obvious but important: no one wants a Hollywood Sign viewing site in his neighborhood. So where could one go? Some Hollywoodland residents have discussed putting a viewing area near the Griffith Observatory, but today LaBonge discussed an old idea for a viewing tower on Hollywood Boulevard. He mentioned the huge London Eye Ferris wheel and said somewhat cryptically that people have come to Los Angeles wanting to do something similar.

But for now LaBonge said he'll put a member of his beautification team up in Hollywoodland to take stock of the situation and help out. Everyone will continue to meet and discuss.