UPDATED 3/26: The battle between Beachwood Canyon residents and anyone who wants to look at the Hollywood Sign has officially spilled over into public park land. Last year, the city gave these ultraNIMBYs a big gift with the introduction of a shuttle bus up the otherwise inaccessible Mount Hollywood Drive to a designated "Hollywood Sign Viewing Area" far away in Griffith Park, where folks could squint and snap distant shots of Los Angeles's most recognizable landmark. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it was something. Now comes the latest twist: the Department of Recreation and Parks has started a pilot program that suspends the shuttle service and instead opens Mount Hollywood Drive, long closed to cars, to all auto traffic (plus parking).
Mount Hollywood Drive worked fine for periodic shuttle buses carrying a lot of people, but opening the floodgates to all traffic is causing problems. Cars are forced to line up one behind the other as they crawl up into the hills searching a for a place to park, since there are no designated spots. Tourists roam all over the windy, narrow street, and with zero infrastructure (signs, rest stops, lights), it's become the same sort of recipe for disaster that the Hollywood Sign neighbors in Beachwood Canyon are always complaining about. A tipster shares this amateur video, shot by a concerned local, which makes the problems clear.
Besides an alert that shuttle service will not be operating through April 12, Rec and Parks has been completely quiet on the matter. Streetsblog suspects that the pilot program is the result of more pressure from Beachwood Canyon—since it means that more people will (theoretically) be able to reach the designated viewing point and therefore (theoretically) stay out of Beachwood, that seems like a reasonable guess. (Plus, why else open up park land to cars?) UPDATE 3/26: Rose Watson of Rec and Parks confirms in an email that the opening was made in response to pressure from Beachwood residents, "and also for the other neighborhoods that surround the park, particularly those areas along Los Feliz Boulevard and Franklin Avenue." Meanwhile, Friends of Griffith Park are already mobilizing against the program out of concern for personal and environmental safety.
Over in Beachwood Canyon, the residents finally got the permit parking district they've been begging for (keeping visitors from parking on the public streets around their houses) and, quite coincidentally we're sure, Rec and Parks reopened the Hollyridge trailhead that leads up behind the Sign. So if you're looking to get to the Hollywood Sign, here's exactly how—you might have to park farther away, but you'll probably still piss off the neighbors.
UPDATE 3/26: Watson writes in an email that the opening is a temporary project that will last through April 12, but the city is collecting data and will consider extending it. She adds that in addition to taking pressure off neighbors, "The goal is to relieve traffic congestion caused by the 6,000 vehicles that drive up to the Observatory. Spring Break is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the park with many thousands of vehicles travelling through it." —Ian Grant
· Griffith Park Traffic Response: Poorly Defined Free Parking Expansion Pilot [Streetsblog]
· How a Small Group of Neighborhood Activists Have Taken the Hollywood Sign Hostage [Curbed LA]
· LA Finally Providing Official Viewing For the Hollywood Sign [Curbed LA]