While I spent a few hours on a baked dirt ridge under the scorching sun below the iconic Hollywood sign, I spoke with tourists from Ireland, Germany, and even Malibu. They were so excited, the pictures never stopped. There are a lot of ways to pose in front of a sign, I learned. That sign, with it's 45 foot tall recently painted letters, is among the top tourist attractions in Southern California, has been since it went up as ‘‘Hollywoodland"" in 1923. The problem is, if you want to view it as a problem, is that the residents who live below it don' t appreciate the thousands and thousands of cars and people who make the pilgrimage to the sign through their neighborhoods.
The streets are narrow and very windy, and there's a real fear that if there were a fire, emergency vehicles would have difficulty getting to them. On an average day all the visitors, on foot and driving, make navigating those roads very challenging. Also, the never ending stream of those Hollywood tour vans make life a little more crowded and noisier than residents would prefer. The tour vans, while outwardly sympathetic (at least the major ones) don't want to give up one of their biggest draws on a ride that people (wow) pay $49.00 for.
It's not easy to get close to the Hollywood sign, either on foot or by car, yet that doesn't stop people. Neither do the no parking, no hiking, no stopping ( and no smoking) signs that are practically everywhere. There's no real ‘solution' to eliminating the crowds.. , if you want to keep access open, and they are public streets and the sign is in a park ( Griffith, technically ) so.. the best plan would be to try to control access or regulate access with a serious of compromises that would make tourists and residents at least moderately happy. Councilman Tom LaBonge, ( remember, you can't spell LaBonge without "L" and "A" knows some of his constituents aren't really pleased with him, accusing him of favoring tourism over neighborhoods, and he says he's working on a ‘‘balance.'. He's very aware of the issue and has been working on it. ( too long without results say residents) Perhaps there will be preferential parking districts in the Beachwood area which would theoretically limit vehicle access. Perhaps a shuttle or DASH bus similar to the one that runs from Vermont and Sunset up to the Griffith Observatory. Perhaps the Hollywood vans would be banned or their weight limit reduced even further. All these are good ideas, worth exploring. They are not necessarily new as this, as I mentioned has been a problem for years. Meantime, if you visit the Hollywood sign, good luck, have fun, pack water and sunscreen along with your cell phone camera. You won't be alone.
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