Hollywood hoops players looking for a brand-affiliated pickup game will have to search outside of Runyon Canyon now that plans for a corporate-sponsored basketball court appear to be officially dead. Amid vocal and well-organized opposition to the project since it was announced in March, the Board of Recreation and Parks commissioners voted Wednesday to disallow construction of the court.
All this began when the cash strapped Recreation and Parks Department agreed to a deal with Neima Khaila, CEO of clothing company Pink+Dolphin. Khaila would pay $260,000 to construct a crucial retaining wall, and in return, a rundown tennis court within the park would be converted into a basketball court bearing the logo of Khaila's company. Nearby residents, however, were outraged by the project—arguing that a sleek, sponsored court would not fit in with the bucolic environs of Runyon Canyon. Of course, many were also upset that the project hadn't been announced earlier.
Opposition to the project seems to be contagious; the nonprofit group Friends of Runyon Canyon and Councilmember David Ryu are now firmly against building the court. Ryu, whose district includes Runyon Canyon and the surrounding neighborhoods, seems to be working against the project somewhat reluctantly. The LA Times reports that scrapping plans for the court now will likely cost the city close to $210,000, as Khaila will need to be reimbursed for work completed on the retaining wall. Much of that money will come from Ryu's own discretionary budget, leaving the councilmember with less flexibility to fund projects down the road.
For his part, Khaila appears to be taking the demise of his hoop dream in stride. "We are considering working with another district to help better the community," he said in a statement yesterday. "Pink Dolphin will continue with our mission to help our neighbors." For Khaila's sake, let's hope the next neighbors he brings his logo to actually want the kind of help he's offering.