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Someone welded shut the Beachwood gate to the Hollywood Sign

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Just days before it was scheduled to close permanently

Beachwood Drive
Sooty Dino / Flickr creative commons

Beachwood Canyon—a popular entrance to the Hollywood Sign—has been the target of a number of shenanigans over the years. The latest? The pedestrian gate at the top of Beachwood Drive was welded shut just days before it was officially scheduled to close, and parks officials say they had to bust it open.

“Over the weekend, someone welded the lock that we had on the gate and we had to remove the welded lock,” Rose Watson, spokesperson for the city’s recreation and parks department, told Curbed.

In the past few years, some canyon residents have tried so hard to keep hikers and tourists out of their neighborhood that they’ve fought to banish tour buses, persuaded mapping companies like Garmin and Google to mislabel the landmark on maps, and convinced the city to turn the upper part of Beachwood Drive into a permit parking-only zone on weekends.

After all of that, it’s easy to presume the gate getting welded shut was another NIMBY antic, but Watson said department officials have no idea who was responsible.

The timing was auspicious. The gate was scheduled to be closed permanently to hikers anyway, the result of a lawsuit filed against the city by the horse stables at the top of Beachwood Drive. It argued in court that hikers were impeding on their business, and a judge agreed.

This is the map that the parks department is handing out to hikers. It shows “vista points,” but other than that, doesn’t clearly identify where to view the Hollywood Sign.
Jenna Chandler

So the gate officially closed at sunset on Monday, marking a big a victory for the neighborhood activists—but a big loss for visitors from near and far.

“It’s my zen for the week when I come up here,” said Hollywood resident Ellen Hancock. She was one of a dozen or so LA hikers and dog-walkers and tourists from Italy, Germany, and Ohio who were turned away from the gate in less than an hour’s time on Tuesday morning.

City officials initially said they would direct hikers to other trailheads to the east, including those at Bronson and Vermont. But a parks security guard posted at the gate and handing out maps this morning said he was advised not to tell pedestrians about any one trail in particular.

That’s probably a relief for homeowners in neighboring canyons, who worry that closing Beachwood will simply put more pressure on other residential streets.

Shortly after the city announced the gate’s April 18 closure date, residents say another gate, the turquoise one at Deronda, was vandalized, the handle broken off. Hikers could only access the gate if someone opened it from inside the park, but it was repaired and the gate reopened within a few days.

Entering through the Deronda gate is one of many ways hikers can still view the Hollywood Sign. But few other routes are as convenient as the Hollyridge Trail from Beachwood. Despite all of the efforts to restrict access there, it remained popular, because it offered one of the shortest hikes to the world-famous landmark.