City officials said it would take five weeks to install a new electric security gate at the entrance to the Beachwood Canyon trail leading to panoramic views of the Hollywood sign.
So, hikers and local homeowners felt their rights to the area's riches – vistas, wildlife and available parking spaces – would soon be secure after the city closed the canyon for construction in March.
By December, many wondered whether it would ever reopen. "The city assured us 'the gate will be ready in two weeks' – for eight months," said Marian Dodge, president of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Assns.
Now they have hope. The city Department of Recreation and Parks on Saturday announced that the canyon will reopen on Monday with the new gate designed to limit vehicle traffic on weekends and holidays, but offer access for hikers during park hours, from 5 a.m. to sunset.
There will be no restrictions on vehicles en route to the Sunset Ranch Horse Stables.
"On the weekends, there is going to be preferential parking for local residents," Griffith Park Ranger Albert Torres said. "A security officer will be at the gate to direct other traffic to the Griffith Park Observatory area, which has access to other trails leading to the Hollywood sign."
"So folks who are not from the area," he added, "are going to have to hike quite a bit more to get to the Beachwood Canyon gate on Saturday and Sunday."
Homeowners at the top of Beachwood Drive have felt under siege for about five years since Internet directions and mobile apps began steering thousands of people each weekend through their leafy neighborhoods for prime views of the Hollywood sign.
Kris Sullivan, who lives a stone's throw from the trail head, anticipates problems.
"With preferential parking on weekends, most hikers are going to have to park way the heck down Beachwood Drive – at least a mile – or be dropped off at the gate," she said. "Directing people to the observatory is also not a good deal because you have to walk at least three miles from there to places where you can see the sign."
And from those places, she added, the sign's 45-foot-tall white capital letters "look really tiny. Nobody would want their picture with the sign from there."
The high-priority city project aimed to resolve the long-running feud between motorists determined to get as close as possible to the sign and residents fed up with the crush of traffic along their narrow, winding streets.
City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who hikes daily in Griffith Park and helped develop the $206,000 gate project, was also among those disappointed that it took so long to get the project through the city's transportation and recreation departments. "But it's a new day and a new year," he said. "I want everyone to hike up to the sign."
Joe Salaices, superintendent of recreation and parks operations, said more time was needed to install fences, improve roads and upgrade the design of the gate to include an electric motor.
FOR THE RECORD
Jan. 3, 11:19 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled Joe Salaices' last name as Salacaise.
"That area wasn't being managed properly, and now it is," he said. "So I'm happy for visitors to the park and people who live nearby."