Hilton’s neighbors dreading her return
Sometime in the next 24 hours, Paris Hilton will walk out of the women’s jail in Lynwood a free woman after serving 23 days behind bars, in what was one of L.A.'s most bizarre and closely watched incarcerations.
Whether the working-class town southeast of downtown Los Angeles will miss the hotel heiress remains to be seen. But some of Hilton’s neighbors in the Hollywood Hills say they are dreading her return.
Already annoyed by the wild parties the heiress has thrown since she moved in, her neighbors are bracing for her expected return and the ensuing crush of media.
They fear a reprise of June 8, when paparazzi and the news media squeezed into their neighborhood to follow her tearful ride to court and then to jail, and helicopters buzzed overhead.
Hilton lives in an upscale hillside neighborhood of gated homes on a narrow, twisting road above the Sunset Strip -- where many well-heeled residents like their privacy.
But the air and ground assault that accompanied Hilton’s tearful ride to jail has brought people together. One flier being passed out to neighbors warned, “Heiress Alert: Time for Action.”
“Dear Neighbor, since the arrival of Paris Hilton to our neighborhood, we’ve seen our quality of life deteriorate,” the flier reads. “We feel we need to take a united stand. The circus will resume next week when she gets out of jail.”
Selby Segall, 75, worries that the heiress’ return from incarceration will cause similar disruptions.
“I don’t think it’s right,” Segall said. “We shouldn’t have to absorb all of this because of one person. Why must we put up with all her baggage?”
Christopher Hauck, who lives across the street from Hilton, said her parties were disruptive enough. He said her guests would urinate in public and stumble about drunk.
“I’m amazed that people have tolerated it as long as they have,” he said.
Representatives for Hilton did not return calls seeking comment. Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss, who represents the area, said his office received dozens of complaints about crowds and traffic jams on the neighborhood’s narrow streets.
But most of the complaints were directed at the noise from the helicopters that tracked the sheriff’s cruiser that took Hilton back to court, and then to jail.
“The feeding frenzy was not L.A.'s finest hour,” Weiss said. “The day the sheriff released her, he, in effect, sentenced the whole community to home confinement. No one could get in or out of their house.”
Weiss said he hopes that when Hilton is released “she decides she wants to go on a long vacation and not come straight home.”
Hilton, 26, was sent to jail after she repeatedly violated probation on alcohol-related reckless driving charges by driving on a suspended license. She spent four days in jail before Sheriff Lee Baca decided to release her. Amid public furor, a judge the following day ordered her back to jail, where she has been ever since.
For her Hollywood Hills neighbors, the worst day came when the judge hauled her back to court and it seemed the world’s eyes were focused on their little hillside road.
Dozens of residents across the border in West Hollywood also flooded City Hall with complaints.
West Hollywood City Councilman Jeffrey Prang said he awoke about 5 a.m. on June 8 to the sound and the fury of the Paris Hilton spectacle.
“It’s hard to justify that Paris going to jail is so newsworthy,” Prang said. “The world is not better or worse based on what happens to Paris Hilton.”
On Wednesday night, the city’s public safety commission met to discuss the helicopter noise issue because of the number of complaints that followed Hilton’s return to jail.
Federal Aviation Administration officials also responded to the helicopter noise complaints.
“In the case of Paris Hilton, we did hear complaints,” said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. “We sent an inspector both to her neighborhood and the county jail to observe the helicopter operations very closely.”
The FAA concluded that the helicopters conducted themselves in a safe manner and according to the law.
“Safety and annoyance are two different things,” Gregor said.
But not all of Hilton’s neighbors were fed up. For some, living in the Hollywood Hills near the famous Sunset Strip means expecting -- and maybe even embracing -- certain things.
Peter Knecht, a defense lawyer and friend of Hilton’s publicist who lives in the neighborhood, said people need to give her a break.
He described some of Hilton’s angry neighbors as “fogies” who are “jealous” of Hilton.
“I don’t mind her as a neighbor,” Knecht said. “I personally like a little spice, a little action in the neighborhood.”