Updated: 6:57 pm: The NIMBY assault on access to the Hollywood Sign has been raging for a few years, but now some very angry neighbors have won an enormous and tangible (if nominally temporary) victory: the Hollyridge trailhead, which starts at the top of Beachwood Drive and leads to some of the best views of the Hollywood Sign (including right behind it), will close tomorrow. The closure is only supposed to last five weeks while the Department of Recreation and Parks puts in a wrought iron gate to replace a slightly older gate that Councilmember Tom LaBonge says is too easy to jump over when it's closed at night. (LaBonge tells the LA Times "There's a necessity for a gate at this location because of its overwhelming popularity," which is pretty weird logic.) But this was never really about just a night-time closure: a neighborhood group has been agitating for a full closure of the trail for months now, and in January LaBonge wrote a letter to the Hollywoodland/Beachwood Canyon neighborhood making it clear he agrees: "Because of the challenges surrounding access to the Hollyridge trail, Sunset Ranch, the Mt. Lee communications center and the Hollywood Sign, I feel it is important to close the trailhead for a 180 day period." Anti-tourist signs have been popping up in the Hollywoodland and Beachwood neighborhoods since 2011 or so, supposedly in response to an influx of visitors finding their way to the Hollywood Sign via new mapping software. LaBonge's office has worked with all the major companies (Google, Garmin, MapQuest, Apple) to get the routes changed, but somehow (ha!) people are still finding their way up Beachwood to the sign and some neighbors are still pissed.
Last fall, the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association—which has been very vocal in its own anti-tourist efforts—sent out a letter to members to clarify that the HHA was not affiliated with a new group called Hollywoodland Beachwood Drive United, "an independent group of Beachwood neighbors focused on the traffic crisis in upper Beachwood." (The HHA said they had told HBDU to stop using the trademarked Hollywoodland name.) The letter said that "The HBDU solution to upper Beachwood's traffic gridlock is to close the HollyridgeTrailhead, and they are pursuing that goal both through legal means and by attempting to sway city officials to their cause."
Neighbors are working on a preferential parking district for the area, meaning only residents would be allowed to park in the neighborhood, and have already successfully defeated a city plan to run shuttles up to the sign, which of course could have cut down on traffic dramatically. An email blast sent last summer from the HBDU confirms that those measures aren't satisfactory to the group: "HBDU feels that the parking permits may be useful, but it is still only a band aid on the real problem which can only be solved by CLOSING THE TRAIL HEAD .... REMEMBER: We must not lose sight of our goal to close the trail head. We must keep up our pressure on the City."
So we'll see what happens in five weeks, after this lengthy gate-installation is finished.
Update: And already a dispatch from the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association says the installation of this apparently very tricky gate will take "6-8 weeks."
· Hollywood Sign Viewing Spot Wars [Curbed LA]