The battle over the publicly-owned Hollywood Sign has been fought on many fronts: the trailhead leading up behind the Sign, which neighbors have worked to have permanently closed; the road up to the trail to the Sign, where neighbors have lobbied to ban non-resident parking and tourist shuttle buses; and it has been fought in the halls of power, where a small group of neighbors—led by a public relations specialist—have pressured local politicians to keep the Sign off limits to outsiders. But it has not been fought at the Hollywood Sign itself. Until now. LA City Council candidate Sheila Irani, a leading candidate to replace termed-out Tom LaBonge and a former staffer in LaBonge's office, says she wants to let private companies bid for the rights to relight the sign "several times a year," with the revenue going to increased security in the surrounding neighborhood, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
When the Sign first went up in 1923—reading "Hollywoodland" as an advertisement for the Hollywoodland housing development now full of neighbors who have grown to resent its entire existence—it was lined in 4,000 20-watt lightbulbs, spaced eight inches apart, according to the Hollywood Sign Trust. By the time the "LAND" was removed in 1949, the lights were "long gone." The Sign has been lit occasionally since then, on New Year's 2000 and for film shoots. But more regular lightings would help make the Hollywood Sign the public landmark and tourist attraction it's supposed to be. As things are now, angry neighbors and apathetic or uninterested local officials have made it confusing and difficult to see the Sign, then blamed map apps for leading tourists to places the neighbors don't want them.
Irani says that when she was working in LaBonge's office she "heard $300,000 to $500,000 offers and even higher" to light the Hollywood Sign. Swarovski asked "to place crystals running down the side and light it" and Moet & Chandon was apparently interested too. "If we're going to accept that the sign's our Statue of Liberty, we need to monetize it better," she says. The priority should be on making a public landmark accessible to the public rather than just making money, but Irani's plan sure beats one of her opponent's, who seems determined to choke the Sign off entirely: "I don't care how draconian or how drastic, I will consider every measure," he promised neighbors.
· L.A. Political Candidate Seeks Sponsor Money to Illuminate Hollywood Sign [THR]
· How a Small Group of Neighborhood Activists Have Taken the Hollywood Sign Hostage [Curbed LA]