On March 25, the popular Hollyridge trailhead, which leads to some of the best views of the Hollywood Sign, closed for six to eight weeks so that the city could install a new gate. Today, 19 weeks later, the trailhead is still closed. Despite the huge interest in the trail, officials have never issued any kind of update on the project. The new gate is something of a compromise with the very vocal NIMBYs of Beachwood Canyon, who have been running a years-long campaign to keep tourists out of their neighborhood, even though it offers the closest, most desirable views of the Hollywood Sign. They've put up rude signs, they've gotten GPS companies to change their software, they've managed to commission a task force of LAPD and Culver City PD officers to patrol the area, and they've lobbied to close the Hollyridge trail permanently.
Hollywoodland Beachwood Drive United, the official neighbor group formed to fight access, wrote in an email blast last summer: "REMEMBER: We must not lose sight of our goal to close the trail head. We must keep up our pressure on the City." Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who's been friendly to the neighbors' cause, wrote in a letter to them in January, "I feel it is important to close the trailhead for a 180 day period" (i.e., about five months). And yet the people of Los Angeles were told they'd only lose access to this public space for two months, tops (an article in the LA Times actually promised it would only be five weeks).
The closure has dragged on because "midway through construction, it was decided" the gate should be mechanical rather than manual, according to Tracy James, LaBonge's director of field operations for the area. LaBonge tells Curbed this kind of mechanical gate is pretty rare in Los Angeles, but the switch was made so that the people who work at the Sunset Ranch stables up the trail won't have to go to the trouble of unlocking the gate every day. We called the Department of Recreation and Parks to see if we could find out more about the gate and the change in plans, but no one has called us back.
James says the new mechanical gate is now "a very short time from completion," but couldn't provide an exact opening date ("maybe three weeks"). When it finally does open, it'll be unlocked for pedestrians seven days a week and closed to all cars except emergency vehicles; there are no exact hours yet, but it'll be locked at night.
As the reopening remains elusive, Beachwood NIMBYs are also pushing for (and LaBonge is supporting) two preferential parking districts for the neighborhood—the districts would create a ban on weekend and holiday street parking for everyone but the locals. A May email from the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association, which has also opposed access to the area, said it was urgently important the Hollyridge trail not be allowed to reopen before the PPDs were in place; the Department of Recreation and Parks had denied their request to keep the trail closed, but several officials, including James, "all agree with our neighborhood organizations that a summer opening of the trailhead gate prior to PPDs being in place will only replicate the perilous conditions that we are working so hard to alleviate."
And the City Council's Transportation Committee just approved the preferential parking districts yesterday. They'll still need approval from the full Council, but with the Hollyridge reopening so extremely tentative and weeks off at least, the neighbors will probably end up getting just exactly what they want.
· Beachwood NIMBY Group Gets Hollywood Sign Trail Shut Down [Curbed LA]
· Hollywood Sign Viewing Spot Wars [Curbed LA]