In the hills that look up at the Hollywood sign, the whims of camera-ready tourists are often leveled against the concerns of homeowners peeved by throngs of visitors.
So when a sign went up recently announcing blocked access to the Hollyridge Trailhead — famous for its picture-perfect view of the nine white letters — it triggered memories of fliers that compared tourists to swarming locusts and posters that asked them to go away.
But Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge urged tourists and hikers not to freak out, saying that the blocked access would only be temporary.
Starting Tuesday, the trail head will be closed for five weeks or so as the city's Department of Recreation and Parks installs a wrought-iron gate at the top of Beachwood Drive. With input from people in the community, LaBonge said, the department decided that it made sense to switch out the old T-bar gate, which was often closed at night but easy to jump over, for a more secure barrier.
"There's a necessity for a gate at this location because of its overwhelming popularity," he said, adding that it makes sense to keep it off-limits at night because of safety concerns.
Tony Fisch, who lives in the nearby Lake Hollywood Estates, said bottlenecks in the area have gotten out of control and that he's concerned that a traffic jam will eventually block first responders from getting to an emergency.
"It's a regular goat rodeo up here on weekends," he said. "We're feeling the brunt of it and we really need help."
LaBonge said finding a delicate balance between pleasing homeowners and visitors — both tourists and Angelenos who don't live in the neighborhood but like to hike its trails — isn't unique to Beachwood Drive. He said he recently received a letter from someone who lives near Runyon Canyon, asking that it be closed to hikers because residents are overwhelmed by cars.
"The cup has runneth over," LaBonge said.
A daily Griffith Park hiker himself, LaBonge stressed that once installation of the gate is finished, pedestrian access will again be available between dawn and dusk.
"I welcome every tourist that comes to this city, because it's important to our economy," he said. "But we're working on the challenges."