Wall Raises Tempers Along Scenic Stretch of Mulholland Drive : Environment: The six-foot-tall structure, which snakes along 600 feet of the roadway, was built by a developer of posh estates. Residents say it blocks their view of the ocean and canyons.
Earlier this summer you could motor along a stretch of Mulholland Drive above Studio City and see the ocean. Today, drivers see a six-foot-tall white stucco wall.
Dubbed by some “the great white monster” and others “our Berlin Wall,” most area residents refer to it simply as “The Wall.”
“It’s cinder blocks with plaster on top,” said Judy Marx, founder of the L.A. Urban Wilderness Coalition. “Everybody is up in arms. It’s like cutting off access to the ocean. It’s unconscionable.”
The wall, which snakes along 600 feet of the scenic roadway, was built to provide security for the posh estates in developer Brian Adler’s exclusive North Beverly Park.
The Department of Public Works granted a permit for the wall, half of which sits on a public right-of-way, with the blessing of the Mulholland Scenic Parkway Citizens Advisory Committee, a group that assists the City Council on issues regarding the area, said Ginny Kruger, planning deputy for Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.
But the committee gave the go-ahead to the plans without realizing how the wall would look, Kruger said.
The committee believed that a four-foot grillwork window would run along 130 feet of the wall, allowing drivers to glimpse the ocean and canyon through the stucco structure, according to Kruger. But when the wall was built earlier this summer, the window was only three feet tall and nothing could be seen from a passing car.
“The wall there is higher than it was supposed to be, and it obstructs the view that they were supposed to provide,” said Richard Reiss, president of the advisory committee.
The design was changed during the planning process and not brought to the committee’s attention, Kruger said.
Adler denied that the plans had changed. But he has contacted a contractor about extending the grillwork to bring the wall more in line with what the committee expected.
That’s not good enough for a group of people who want to see the wall come down.
“I know a lot of people out here who’d like to come out and physically dismantle the wall,” said Alan Kishbaugh, vice president of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Assns.
The wall has become a cause celebre among homeowner organizations. Groups such as the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy are also fighting the structure, saying it blocks a popular crossing point used by bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife.
“It has become the major issue on the Mulholland cocktail circuit,” said conservancy commissioner John A. Diaz.
He said the wall is also a slap in the face to groups that have fought for years to put an ordinance in place that would regulate development along the scenic corridor in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The proposed Mulholland Scenic Parkway Specific Plan is being reviewed by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, officials said.
“Not only do we want this wall down, but we want the Mulholland scenic corridor ordinance enacted,” Kishbaugh said. “We’ve had enough of this horsing around for 18 years.”
Kishbaugh wants Adler to tear down the wall or move it back from the drive, which would put it on an incline leading to the development.
But Adler said that moving the wall would negate the security it provides.
“We got permission to put up this wall,” Adler said. “Certainly we wouldn’t have ever broken ground putting in the wall if we didn’t have everybody’s blessing.”