Hollywoodland’s Beachwood Drive Traffic Issues: An Update

August 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yesterday’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting yielded two positive results from the perspective of Hollywoodland residents. The deeply unpopular plan to run tourist vans to the dead end of Beachwood Drive was tabled, while a motion for the Department of Transportation to “consider the feasibility of immediately establishing an emergency Temporary Preferential Parking District” on upper Beachwood Drive (north of Ledgewood) was approved. The expectation is that residents north of Ledgewood will be allowed parking passes, easing the competition for a limited number of spaces.

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On “Blade Runner”: Four Essays

August 28, 2013 § 3 Comments

blade_runner1That’s the title of my new eBook, which is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, among other eBook publishers. Two of the essays appeared here in somewhat different form. Two longer pieces–a comparison of the film and the book on which it is based, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and an exploration of Japanese influences in the film–have never been published before. Here’s a link:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/BLADE-RUNNER–FOUR-ESSAYS?keyword=BLADE+RUNNER%3A+FOUR+ESSAYS&store=ebook

LaBonge Rides Again: His Plan to Run Vans Up Beachwood Drive to the Hollyridge Trail

August 27, 2013 § 2 Comments

The August 14 meeting with Councilman Tom LaBonge, in which Beachwood Canyon residents asked the City to temporarily close the trailhead at the end of Beachwood Drive, has yielded the opposite response:

Motion (LaBonge – O’Farrell) instructing the LADOT to report relative to the feasibility of implementing a transportation pilot program that ferries tourists and hikers in a vehicle (no larger than a 10 passenger van) to the Hollyridge trailhead at the end of Beachwood Drive or the Hollywood Sign in a safe and organized manner.

Oddly, LaBonge never mentioned this plan during the meeting, though surely it was on his mind. If implemented, Hollyridge Trail will not only remain open but receive even greater traffic than it does now. The vans are apparently slated to run every ten minutes, completing the transformation of Hollywoodland from a residential neighborhood to a tourist zone. For those who think it’s no big deal, the dead-end of Beachwood is a bottleneck with no place to turn around. Those who live there report constant problems from a steady stream of visitors, who vandalize property and smoke in a fire-prone area. A recent medical emergency involving two hikers on the trail had a delayed response because emergency vehicles couldn’t get through the crowds.

For those who wish to attend tomorrow’s meeting, here are the details:

Wednesday August 28, 2013
at 2 p.m.
TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE MEETING
City Hall Room 1010

The Mysterious Lighting of the Hollywood Sign: The Plot Thickens

August 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

Last week’s two-night illumination of the Sign now has two possible explanations:

http://laist.com/2013/08/24/hollywood_sign_lighting_mystery_sol.php

Though a fan of run-and-gun filming, I can’t imagine summoning the nerve to aim huge lights on the Hollywood Sign–after all, it’s not the kind of thing that would go unnoticed. If Cronenberg were the director it would be even more interesting, since he would have the budget for a permit. It’s most likely that the filmmaker, whichever he is, figured his application would be turned down and decided to go for it.

In reading the account, I realize I know not only the A-frame house in question but its former owner, Nick Roth, as well as the jogger, Adam Boardman. All of which proves that Beachwood Canyon is a Mayberry in the metropolitan sprawl of Los Angeles.

The Glow-in-the-Dark Hollywood Sign

August 24, 2013 § 2 Comments

Photo by Hope Anderson Productions

The Hollywood Sign and Clouds/Photo by Hope Anderson Productions

Two friends have alerted me to the mysterious illumination of the Hollywood Sign during the past couple of nights. Not that I noticed–once I’m home, I tend not to stare out the window at it. The fact that this “lighting” of the Sign–which in no way resembles the full-on light show of December 31, 1999–has aroused such enthusiasm should give pause to those who think it could be illuminated (sporadically or not) without inciting massive traffic jams into Beachwood Canyon. Here’s an article about it:

http://laist.com/2013/08/23/mystery_why_was_the_hollywood_sign_lit_up.php

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Hollywood Sign is often visible at night because its white paint reflects ambient light and moonlight. The recent paint job only increases the phenomenon, and those who live near the Sign report the nightly influx of noisy groups of partiers. Adding insult to injury, these visitors leave their bottles, cans, condoms and cigarette butts for residents to clean up.

The fact that people are smoking in a high-risk fire zone is disturbing, as a single spark can (and has) set the neighborhood ablaze. As for the bottles, cans and condoms, the least these revelers could do is to taken their trash with them. Another word about the condoms: not only is it illegal to have sex in public, but Hollywoodland’s wild animal patrol–raccoons and skunks, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions–should give anyone pause.

Tom LaBonge: Everyone’s City Councilman (Except Beachwooders’)

August 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Tourists on Mulholland Highway in 2011/Hope Anderson Productions

Tourists on Mulholland Highway in 2011/Hope Anderson Productions

Last night’s public meeting on Beachwood Canyon’s tourism crisis was notable in many ways. It was packed–so much so that I couldn’t find parking anywhere in the vicinity of Fountain Avenue and arrived too late to be put on the speakers’ roster. It was contentious, not only between the citizenry and Councilman LaBonge, but among various neighborhood groups with divergent interests–i.e., Friends of Griffith Park, which doesn’t want the closure of certain Park roads, versus the Hollywoodland Homeowners’ Association, which does. And it was horrifying, because it made clear that it’s only a matter of time before the unchecked flow of tourist traffic into Beachwood Canyon will have deadly consequences.

Residents who spoke recounted the ways in which life in Beachwood Canyon has gotten more difficult and dangerous since the ubiquity of GPS. With 1,000 cars per day ascending the narrow streets around the Hollywood Sign, there have been auto accidents, threats against residents by tourists and tour bus drivers, emergency services delayed because of traffic jams, and round-the-clock intoxication, lewd behavior and vandalism throughout the Canyon.

When I moved to Hollywoodland in 2005, I went to Lake Hollywood Park with my dog almost daily; we also hiked the trails once or twice a week. As time passed, our daily drive up to the Park became increasingly terrifying, as tourists refused to give right-of-way while driving downhill on Ledgewood, a street of blind curves. It’s unusual to have to slam on the brakes while ascending a steep hill to avoid being hit head-on, but that’s what I had to do countless times. My dog–a 95-pounder–was flung from the backseat onto the floor more times than I care to remember. Tourists cursed me when I told them, “Up has the right of way,” and refused to back up as required by law. I’ve stopped foreign tourists–from India and Brazil–after seeing them running every stop sign on Beachwood Drive–apparently knowledge of the word stop isn’t required to rent a car. Tourists smoke with impunity in a dry, fire-prone habitat, often within feet of the Smokey the Bear signs that Councilman LaBonge so proudly installed last year.

I no longer go to Lake Hollywood Park or the trails: since my dog died last year, the danger of getting up there–either by car or on foot–has outweighed the pleasures of those destinations. It’s a shame, because the Park and trails were major reasons for my moving here in the first place. But times have changed: like many Beachwooders, I feel the neighborhood has been given over to tourists, and that we residents no longer matter.

Councilman Labonge said as much last night. In response to a neighbor of mine who said, “The word on the street is that you care more about the tourists than the residents,” he angrily responded, “Not true. Not true–I care about everyone.” Any other politician would have said, “I care deeply about my constituents,” but not him. Still, I give Tom LaBonge credit for speaking the truth: when he says he cares about everyone, he means everyone in the world. Except of course those of us who live here, and whose taxes pay his salary.

Related articles:
https://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/tom-labonges-plan-for-hollywoodland-an-update/
https://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/tom-labonges-tourist-trade/

Tom LaBonge’s Plan for Hollywoodland: An Update

August 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

Today I received an email from the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association about Wednesday’s meeting with Councilman Tom LaBonge. [Disclosure: I served on the HHA Board in 2011, quitting after two months.] The HHA’s long history with LaBonge has been marked by acrimony, but today’s email seems quite chummy:

The councilman has tried to help us by funding weekend traffic checkpoints and installing Smokey the Bear signs. Now he proposes, among other things, a dash [sic] bus that would take hikers from the village all the way to the top of Beachwood. He also proposes painting the curb on one side of Beachwood (above Ledgewood) red to alleviate traffic congestion.

Why do hikers need to be transported to the top of Beachwood? Because some residents object to large groups of young people (generally European or Asian, I’ve noticed–Americans are more likely to drive) traipsing up the narrow part of Beachwood Drive, where sidewalks are intermittent. Presumably these hikers will arrive in Beachwood Village by bus; otherwise, where would they leave their cars? As for the No Parking zone, it apparently is to begin north of Ledgewood instead of at the Village, two blocks south. Presumably all those people who park their cars on Beachwood north of Ledgewood will have to park further south, despite the fact that there aren’t enough spaces to accommodate them.

Meanwhile, I RSVP’d for the meeting and asked to speak. According to Daniel Halden of Tom LaBonge’s office, the agenda hasn’t been set. But they know I’m coming.

Related article:

https://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/tom-labonges-tourist-trade/

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