Just Don’t Do It: Penalties Kick In For Hollywood Sign Trespassers

July 4, 2016 § 3 Comments

The Hollywood Sign/Hope Anderson Productions

The Hollywood Sign/Hope Anderson Productions

People who climb to the Hollywood Sign are fully aware they are trespassing: there are Do Not Enter Signs on the way up, as well as a gate. The Sign itself is equipped with sensors and loudspeakers, and police helicopters are deployed at the first sign of a breach. Even those who are at the Sign legally (as I have been on two occasions while filming) will be warned off before their time is up.

However much of a tourist attraction it is, the Hollywood Sign is also a high-security area, and has been for decades. After the September 11th attacks it was designated (along with City Hall, LAX and the Pacific Design Center) a high-risk target for terrorism. Yet in the years since, the consequences for trespassers have been all but nonexistent: climbers to the Sign usually haven’t been arrested, let alone fined, despite the fact that criminal penalties have long been in place.

Probably because former Councilmember Tom LaBonge, a notorious cheerleader for unruly Hollywood Sign tourism, is no longer around to influence law enforcement, things seem to be changing. After a particularly egregious trespasser climbed one of the letters of the Sign in May, he was arrested, jailed overnight and charged with trespass. At the end of June, he pled guilty and was sentenced to the maximum penalties under current law:

One year’s probation
Twenty days of Caltrans labor
$1,000.00 fine, with penalties of up to five times that amount
Restitution to the LAPD and Rec and Parks
A Stay-Away-from-the-Sign Order

The fact that the trespasser was a professional prankster with a large YouTube following might have influenced the judge’s decision in this case. However, Sarah Dusseault, Chief of Staff for Councilmember David Ryu, confirms that Ryu’s office is working with the City Attorney on stiffer penalties for future scofflaws.

§ 3 Responses to Just Don’t Do It: Penalties Kick In For Hollywood Sign Trespassers

  • Martin says:

    thanks for this update!

  • It never ceases to amaze me how people will buy a house next to a prominent tourist attraction, then spend years whining and kvetching about tourists afterwards. Literally nobody bought property there before the sign existed.

    I think we should bulldoze your houses and build the funicular where they used to be, just to insure you wouldn’t have to endure those awful tourists.

    • Of course no one bought houses in Hollywood before the Sign was built in 1923–the neighborhood didn’t exist before that date. The Hollywood Sign was a billboard for the neighborhood, which was founded at the same time. Before then, Hollywoodland was undeveloped, a ranch where no one but horses and a few ranch hands lived. You can read more about the history of Beachwood Canyon on this blog, or watch the documentary of the same name–the Vimeo link is on the right side of the home page. As for your idea that “we should bulldoze your houses and build the funicular,” who is we? Where will the money come from to buy us out?

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