Calamity Canyon: This Week’s Round-Up of Hollywoodland Misadventures

May 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Fire Hydrant on Mulholland Highway 5/26/14/Courtesy Elias M. Saade

Fire Hydrant on Mulholland Highway 5/26/14/Courtesy Elias M. Saade

As I was driving along Franklin today around 3pm, three fire trucks roared past and up Beachwood Canyon, sirens blaring. Once on Beachwood Drive, I pulled over twice more to let emergency vehicles pass. Meanwhile, helicopters arrived and circled the Hollywood Sign. What was happening? Apparently two women climbing illegally to the Sign got stuck in a ravine under the letter D and needed rescue. (Note to potential climbers: Not only is climbing to the Sign illegal, but it’s much harder than it looks.)

Before anyone writes, “You knew the Sign was there when you moved here!,” or in the case of LA Curbed, “NIMBY,” let me say that before GPS became standard on cell phones, such emergencies rarely occurred. Moreover, this is the third incident in the same area during the past five days. And it’s only May 30th.

Here’s a recap:

1. Sunday, May 25th, 10:30pm: A woman walking her dog in the dark along the high wall at the dead-end of Mulholland Highway falls off, breaking her arm. She is rescued by the LAFD after a lengthy spate of sirens and helicopters. The dog is OK.

2. Monday, May 26th, 6:30pm: A car–apparently belonging to the owner of one of the tour bus companies–hits the fire hydrant near the same end of Mulholland Highway, sending a plume of water down Ledgewood. Fire trucks are called to stop the flooding. (This has happened several times before, yet no barrier has been erected to protect the hydrant.)

3. Friday, May 30th, 3pm: See above.

To those planning to visit Beachwood Canyon, those signs that say “no smoking” and “no trespassing” are there for good reason: your safety. And it’s really best to stay away from that hydrant.

Revisiting the Scene of Saturday’s Beachwood Drive Accident, and Encountering Another

May 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

After I posted about Saturday’s manure truck accident, my neighbor Christine Kent wrote, “what your photo doesn’t show is that if someone was in that car they would be seriously injured or dead…the driver side is completely crushed.” From her photo, it’s easy to see what would have happened if the parked vehicle hadn’t been empty.

Crushed on Beachwood Drive/Courtesy Christine Kent

Crushed on Beachwood Drive/Courtesy Christine Kent


She also suggested I go up to see the marks left behind from the car’s dragging, so late this afternoon I walked up and took these pictures. Not only did I find long drag marks but actual gouges from the impact of the overturned rig.
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The Aftermath of Saturday's Manure Truck Accident on N. Beachwood Drive/Photos by Hope Anderson Productions

The Aftermath of Saturday’s Manure Truck Accident on N. Beachwood Drive/Photos by Hope Anderson Productions


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Walking north on Beachwood Drive is always a bit scary. The sidewalk ends soon after the intersection of Beachwood and Westshire, leaving no alternative to walking in the street. This is what throngs of hikers do, almost always several abreast, but even single file isn’t safe on such a narrow street. After I took my pictures, I walked south along the west side of the street, hugging the edge of the road as cars whizzed by. I was glad to get home uneventfully. Half an hour later I heard a loud bang, followed by sirens. I went out to find this scene:
This afternoon's Beachwood Drive accident, only two blocks south/All photos Hope Anderson Productions

This afternoon’s Beachwood Drive accident, only two blocks south/All photos Hope Anderson Productions


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Apparently only the driver of one of the cars was hurt, something of a miracle at a time when dog walkers and bicyclists are always on the street. If the Hollyridge Trailhead weren’t temporarily closed, there probably would have been a group of tourists walking where the accident took place. There’s no doubt there will be future accidents on Beachwood Drive–the road will always be narrow and winding, with too much vehicular traffic. But if the City reopens the Hollyridge Trailhead as planned, the next accident might have much graver consequences.

This Morning Near the Hollyridge Trailhead, A Truckload of Spilled Manure

May 17, 2014 § 4 Comments

Overturned Rig Carrying Manure from Sunset Ranch, 5/17/14/Courtesy T.J.Escott

Overturned Rig Carrying Manure from Sunset Ranch, 5/17/14/Courtesy T.J.Escott


Photo Courtesy T.J. Escott

Photo Courtesy T.J. Escott


This morning a rig carrying a load of manure from Sunset Ranch overturned on North Beachwood Drive; fortunately, no one was buried by it. But on a normal Saturday, this might have been the outcome, as the street is always crowded with pedestrians headed toward the Hollyridge Trail.

The only reason pedestrians weren’t out in force today is that the Trail is closed due to the construction of a fence and gate. When completed, the gate will keep out cars (except for those going to the Ranch), but not pedestrians, despite the fact that they walk up in large groups, several abreast, on a street that lacks sidewalks, blocking cars and emergency vehicles.

In the interest of public safety, Hollywoodland residents have united in petitioning the City to close the Hollyridge Trailhead permanently, and the LAPD, LADOT and LAFD have concurred. Nevertheless, Rec and Parks Interim General Manager Mike Schull has ignored all recommendations and plans to reopen pedestrian access the Hollyridge Trail via Beachwood Drive as soon as the gate is completed. Councilman Tom LaBonge, after promising a 180-day closure of the trailhead for further study, has reneged on his promise and now agrees with Schull.

For those who believe the Hollyridge Trail has always open to hikers and their vehicles, a bit of history. The land where the Hollyridge Trail is located was originally part of the Hollywoodland Tract–private land. In 1944, Hollywoodland’s developers deeded the parcel, which includes the Hollywood Sign, to the City of Los Angeles, which annexed it to Griffith Park. Access to the parcel was supposed to be via Canyon Drive, not Beachwood Drive. The Hollyridge Trailhead and unpaved parking lot are a much more recent development, having been put in illegally by the City a dozen years ago.

Although Hollywood residents like to hike the Trail as much as visitors do, we are willing to forgo our own access in the interest of safety–not only our own but that of visitors, whose treatment for injuries and heat stroke has been needlessly delayed by the gridlock on Beachwood Drive. Another pressing concern is the increased fire risk brought into the Canyon by thousands of visitors a day, many of whom smoke with impunity. As we face the driest summer in Los Angeles’ history, the chances of Hollywoodland going up in flames increase with each new day. On a gridlocked street with no alternate access, all it would take is a single spark.

Hollywoodland: Not To Be Confused With A Urinal

May 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

I almost always get nice comments from my readers; however, last month’s pieces on the problems brought by Beachwood Canyon’s unrestrained tourism brought this message, printed in its entirety.

Just admit you hate everyone that goes beyond the village that doesn’t live there. You really have no sympathy from anyone south of you. In fact we’re thinking about investing in sandbags to protect us from the river you cry.

Ordinarily I’d ignore someone called Boohoohoo who thinks I’m looking for sympathy, but as it happens I just discovered the perfect response in my recycling bin:

Bottle of Urine Left in My Recycling Bin/Hope Anderson Productions

Bottle of Urine Left in My Recycling Bin/Hope Anderson Productions

This is what happens in a residential neighborhood that has a thousand visitors a day and no public toilets. Neighbors of mine who live at the north end of Beachwood Drive have reported bottles of urine strewn on their properties for some time now, along with lit cigarettes, beer cans, liquor bottles and condoms. This was my first experience with a urine bottle, and though I can’t prove it was left by a tourist, whoever dumped it felt free to enter an enclosure on private property between 10am last Friday and 5pm on Saturday. The bottle’s contents were not recyclable, so guess who had to dispose of them? (FYI to him and other like-minded men: I’m putting a lock on my trash enclosure.)

As for Boohoohoo, he/she should contact me about assisting in neighborhood cleanup efforts. There’s plenty to do.

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