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City will close Beachwood Canyon access to Hollywood Sign

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It will redirect hikers to Bronson Canyon and Vermont Avenue

View of the Hollywood sign from the Bronson caves.
Clinton Steeds / Flickr creative commons

The city said today it will start shutting off pedestrian access to the popular Beachwood Canyon trailhead that leads to some of the best views of LA’s most famous landmark—the Hollywood Sign.

“Sometime in the next few weeks,” the city will start redirecting hikers east to trailheads into Griffith Park at Canyon Drive and Vermont Avenue, recreation and parks department spokeswoman Rose Watson told Curbed on Tuesday.

Watson said the decision was in response to a court order, but would not give any more details. A spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, who reps the neighborhood, said the decision stems from a preliminary injunction issued in February, when, court documents show, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found the city was channeling 15,000 visitors a month toward Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables and interfering with its business.

Hikers entering Griffith Park via Beachwood Canyon end up on Hollyridge Trail. The route is one of the most popular launching points for getting a good glimpse of the iconic sign. Closing it will be viewed as a big win for some Beachwood Canyon residents who don’t want to deal with tourists entering the neighborhood to visit the public park.

Those residents can thank Sunset Ranch—which gives guided horse rides through the park—for their victory.

Sunset Ranch sued in 2015, claiming the city was allowing hikers to walk on its “exclusive” easement, a 20-foot-wide strip of land that serves as the ranch’s driveway, extending from the southern end of its property to where Beachwood Drive ends.

In 2001, the city carved a north-to-south path from the easement to the Hollyridge Trail after a new house was built obstructing access to an old trailhead on Hollyridge Drive. Last month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth R. Feffer determined the ranch couldn’t block hikers from the easement, because it’s located on public property.

But, she found, the ranch had provided “undisputed evidence” that guards posted at an electric gate installed on Beachwood Drive by the city in 2014 have turned away paying customers. She also said thousands of visitors who use the 2001 path “block access to and from” the ranch.

Feffer ordered the city to keep the Hollyridge Trail open. It can be accessed from other points in Griffith Park, including Bronson and Vermont. Her ruling also said pedestrian access to the trail needed to be as close as possible to an electric gate at the end of Beachwood or at the pre-2001 access point from Hollyridge Drive.

Redirecting pedestrians to Bronson Canyon and Vermont will add more than 1 mile to the hike to the sign via Hollyridge. It’s bound to put pressure on Bronson Canyon, which is already jammed on the weekends, and Vermont, which is the entrance to the Greek Theatre.

But it’s sure to satisfy Beachwood Canyon residents who have put up misleading (often rude) signs, gotten a special squad of Los Angeles and Culver City police officers to patrol their neighborhood, and convinced every major map software company to change directions to the sign.

That’s just some—not all—of the residents.

Easy access to Griffith Park was a major perk for Tony Castanares when he purchased his home on Hollyridge Drive 36 years ago. “I don’t want to lose that,” he said. “A lot of the people in the neighborhood don’t want to lose that.” He wants the public to have access to it, too. “What we’re doing is privatizing this whole canyon and cutting off access,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s right.”

Dealing with crowds, Castanares said, is just part of living in the city: “This is a huge tourist draw. Everyone who wants to come to Los Angeles, wants to see the Hollywood Sign.”