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.

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.

Vehicular Access to the Hollyridge Trailhead Ends Tuesday, March 25th

March 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

In response to the tourist gridlock at the end of Beachwood Drive, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will begin construction tomorrow on a wrought iron gate at the northern end of Beachwood Drive, where Griffith Park begins. When the project is completed in 6-8 weeks, pedestrians will have access to the Hollyridge Trail between sunrise and sunset. However, no vehicles will be allowed past the gate, with the exception of Rec and Parks vehicles and those of visitors to Sunset Ranch.

For those who wonder why this measure is necessary, here’s a link to a video shot by Tjardus Greidanus a block above Beachwood Village one Saturday:

https://vimeo.com/83534213

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/

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