Few points of interest define Los Angeles more than the Hollywood sign planted on Mt. Lee in Griffith Park, its towering letters visible across the city. It is a magnet for tourists, a popular destination for hikers and an endless source of irritation for the homeowners whose Hollywood Hills streets are the pathways for these pilgrimages.
For years, residents have complained bitterly about the traffic — car and pedestrian — choking their residential streets. They've complained about the noise. They've complained about the trash. They've complained about people smoking in a high-fire area. They have warned that when the hilly, winding roads become crowded with tourists and hikers, it becomes difficult for emergency vehicles to pass.
Now, a group called Homeowners on Beachwood Drive United has sued the city of Los Angeles for installing a new electric gate at the northern end of their street in Beachwood Canyon leading into Griffith Park — and for publicizing it as a newly safe pedestrian access point into the park. The suit contends that the city should have conducted a substantial environmental review of the effect on both the park and the neighborhood. The suit also says the gate opens onto an easement road that is restricted to people going to the Sunset Ranch horse stables. Tourists and hikers have used the road for years to get onto the Hollyridge Trail to the sign, but the residents behind the lawsuit now want to close that route to the trail, at least while the city studies the impact.
It's hard not to have some sympathy for residents who feel inundated by a steady stream of wanderers in the streets — there are no sidewalks — some of whom knock on doors and beg to use the bathroom. The residents recently persuaded the city to restrict parking on their streets on weekends and holidays.
But this community has the good fortune to be near a spectacular public park that is, by definition, open to the public. Tourists as well as residents outside the immediate neighborhood have a right to access Griffith Park's hiking trails, even if it means driving and walking past peoples' houses. And living near the Hollywood sign means living with its tourist traffic.