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City To Block Beachwood Access For Hollywood Sign Hikers

(Photo by Mike Hume via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A recent court ruling will change the way hikers and tourists get up to the Hollywood sign.

The decision revolved around a gate on Beachwood Drive in the Hollywood Hills—the gate has been used by pedestrians to get from Beachwood Drive to the Hollyridge Trail, which leads to the Hollywood sign.

Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables, which is located in that area, had claimed in a lawsuit that it has an "exclusive easement road" in that space, according to the L.A. Times, and complained that the city had been funneling hikers into that area by encouraging them to use the aforementioned gate.

According to a statement by the Department of Recreation and Parks, the ruling deemed "that pedestrian access along the road to Sunset Ranch was incompatible with with Sunset Ranch's legal easement and impeded their ability to conduct business." As such, the city will now take steps to divert people to other points of access to the Hollyridge Trail. The department said that it will be directing people to "other nearby access points that will include Canyon Road and the Vermont Canyon entrances," adding that this new effort will happen in the "next few weeks as we put in place enforcement to redirect and to effectively serve tourists, hikers and residents."

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Rose Watson, a spokesperson with the Department of Recreation and Parks, told LAist that the department will be working on ways to redirect pedestrians away from the gate. "I imagine that there will be some new signage. We may also put out releases to alert people," said Rose. "We'll be informing the public and letting them know that those other entrances are already there."

When asked about the possibility of fines, Rose said that it's still too early to say. "The majority of people who come to the park are respectful and there are no issues. I hope, and think that, everyone will respect the law that was made," said Rose.

Councilmember David Ryu, who represents the surrounding district, issued a statement saying, “Now that the Sunset Ranch litigation is done, we can focus on the work at hand. My office will continue to move forward on long-term strategies to create better experiences for tourists and safeguard the negatively impacted communities around the Hollywood Sign.”

The ruling comes amid the ongoing saga in which certain residents of Beachwood Canyon have tried to block of their area to hikers wishing to reach the iconic sign. They argue that Beachwood Drive is ill-equipped to handle the amount of foot traffic that passes through the area, and have portrayed it as an issue of public safety. In 2015, some of those residents sued the city, saying that it encouraged people to use Beachwood Drive as an entrance to the trail without analyzing the impact as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

While the recent ruling may seem like a victory for surrounding residents, some say that it'll only force pedestrians to other parts of the area. As noted by Curbed LA, sending pedestrians to Canyon Drive and Vermont will add more than a mile to the hike to the sign, and may increase foot traffic in nearby Bronson Canyon.