Tom LaBonge’s Tourist Trade

August 11, 2013 § 6 Comments

Councilman Tom LaBonge at the Hollywood Sign/tomlabonge.com

Councilman Tom LaBonge at the Hollywood Sign/tomlabonge.com

Beachwood Canyon falls within Los Angeles’s Fourth Council District, which since 2001 has been represented by Tom LaBonge. [Disclosure: I interviewed Councilman LaBonge for my documentary, “Under the Hollywood Sign,” in 2006, and have met him several times since.] For those of us who live here, particularly in Hollywoodland, his tenure has been an infuriating series of battles, as LaBonge long ago decided his true constituency is not us but every tourist who thinks Hey, let’s drive up to the Hollywood Sign and take pictures! Never mind that the Canyon’s streets are narrow, winding and residential: Tom LaBonge wants everyone in the world to come up here, even to the point of directing them personally.

A few years ago, after weekends of gridlock on the Canyon’s northwestern streets left residents unable to leave or return to their houses, LaBonge responded by clearing a hillside above Lake Hollywood Park so that tourists could take pictures near the Sign. Eliminating some of the brush was probably a good idea, but cars and buses came in ever-increasing numbers, creating havoc on Mulholland Highway and Canyon Lake Drive. It wasn’t long before a wildfire broke out from a cigarette flicked into the chaparral by a tourist. But it’s all good according Tom LaBonge, who once wanted to build a lookout tower in Beachwood Village for tourists. Never mind that he proposed putting the tower in the parking lot of the Beachwood Market, which happens to be private property, or that very few tourists want to walk, let alone climb steps, for a look at the Hollywood Sign. For Tom LaBonge, it’s about the tourists all the time; we residents can go hang. (I often wonder where he thinks his salary comes from.)

His latest idea for Hollywoodland is jaw-dropping, even by past standards. LaBonge has proposed an immediate elimination of 50% of the parking on Beachwood Drive north of Beachwood Village, meaning that one side of the Canyon’s only thoroughfare would be permanently off-limits to parked cars. The reason for this is obvious: LaBonge, a lame duck, wants cement his tourism-centric legacy by granting even greater access to sightseeing buses and vans (all of which exceed weight limits, not that this is ever enforced). The implications of this plan are devastating, not only to those residents who have nowhere else to park but to those of us who have garages. Apparently LaBonge thinks no one will ever need parking spaces for visiting friends, family or workmen, and that upper Beachwood Drive is his for the taking.

There’s a hearing about the proposal scheduled for Wednesday, August 14th at 7pm at 6501 Fountain Avenue. I’ll be there, and I hope other Beachwooders–particularly those who live on Beachwood Drive–will attend as well.

Related articles:

https://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/setting-our-house-on-fire-hollywood-sign-tourists-and-their-cigarettes/

https://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/beachwoods-scofflaw-tourists-just-get-us-to-the-hollywood-sign-residents-be-damned/

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