On March 25, the trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon that leads up to the Hollywood Sign was closed for five weeks. Today, just shy of 41 weeks later, it has finally reopened. Officials said the installation was delayed after plans for the gate changed midway through construction. Councilmember Tom LaBonge's office told us in September the gate would be opening in a few weeks. Eventually it became clear that the city was keeping this public space closed off in order to appease Beachwood's rowdy Hollywood Sign neighbors, who hate that people want to visit their neighborhood to see the sign. Those neighbors have put up misleading (often rude) signage, gotten a special squad of LAPD and Culver City PD officers to patrol their neighborhood, and even convinced every major map software company to change directions to the sign, all while nixing plans for compromises like a city-run shuttle up Beachwood Canyon. Finally they asked for and were granted two preferential parking districts, which will allow these residents and only these residents to park on these public streets on certain days.
The problem was that the parking district took a while to put in place. The City Council had to clear it and signs had to be put up and the process ended up stretching out for months. As of a few weeks ago, there was no set opening date for the trailhead. The residents didn't make it a secret that they wanted the trailhead closed permanently, or at the very least until they got their permit parking (officials wouldn't say that the two were related). Now the parking signs have finally gone up and look at that: the trail is reopening. The gate at the trailhead will be open to pedestrians from 5 am to sunset and closed to all cars unless they're going to the Sunset Ranch stables.
Meanwhile, there'll be no parking on either side of Beachwood Drive as far south as Ledgewood Drive on weekends or holidays for anyone who doesn't live in the neighborhood. So to get up to the newly reopened trailhead, visitors will have to park much lower in the canyon and hike the extra way on those narrow streets (there aren't a lot of sidewalks up there). Or, if they drive to the top, a security guard will tell them to leave and go to Griffith Observatory, where they'll find a pretty terrible view of the Hollywood Sign.
So: are the neighbors happy now? Are the Hollywood Sign Viewing Spot Wars over? Probably not! On KTLA today, one resident argued against ever reopening the trail, calling the situation in Beachwood "dangerous." (One neighborhood group has been fighting for permanent closure of the public trailhead for years now.) Forcing more people to hike up Beachwood Drive is only going to make the whole area more of a clusterfuck. But the GPS directions have been changed, the gate's been put up, and the permit parking is in place. Since nuking all out-of-towners upon arrival at LAX is probably out of the question, it might be time for the neighbors to start looking at options that allow tourists in the neighborhood while regulating their flow. In the meantime, do check out Lake Hollywood Park: fair amount of parking and a terrific view of the sign.
· Popular Hiking Trail to Hollywood Sign Reopens to Mixed Reaction [KTLA]
· Why Has the Hollywood Sign Trail Been Closed For Five Months? [Curbed LA]
· Hollywood Sign Trail Still Closed; Here's How to Use It Anyway [Curbed LA]