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Arts and Entertainment

Construction Halted On Runyon Canyon's Maligned 'Corporate' Basketball Court

The view from Runyon Canyon. (Photo by Miguel Cruz Images via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Amidst pressure from the joggerati of Runyon Canyon, Councilman David Ryu has instructed the Department of Recreation and Parks to halt construction on a controversial corporate-branded basketball court that would have been located halfway up the popular hiking trail. Ryu said in a statement that the project had been initiated before he took office, and that community concern made it clear that more consideration would be needed before further action on the court was taken. As any hiker worth their weight in Lululemons knows, Runyon Canyon has been closed since the beginning of April for pipe replacement work and will reopen in July. Residents and trail devotees were understanding about the long-planned closures, until they found out that the Department of Recreation and Parks would also be constructing a basketball court in partnership with streetwear brand Pink+Dolphin (with the company paying to build what the L.A. Times called an "expensive and much-needed" retaining wall at the park, along with the aforementioned basketball court, all in exchange for some very serious branding opportunities). Needless to say, the good people of Runyon Canyon were horrified. Sure, they hated the court and thought it was déclassé, but they were also furious that no one had mentioned it to them until just weeks before construction was slated to begin. Sneaky, right?


Rendering of the proposed basketball court and logo.
The fracas hit a boiling point at a neighborhood council meeting earlier this month where committed citizens waited outside for up to two hours in order to voice their dissent, leading the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council to pass a unanimous motion opposing "the basketball court and the commercialization of the park."

Ryu's actions, publicized in a letter to the Department of Recreation and Parks, will officially halt construction on the court, as well as formally ask the department's board to reconsider their approval of the basketball court in question. As the councilman writes:

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This incredible city asset is desperately in need of improvements to address erosion, sanitation, water infrastructure, traffic and safety. The Department of Water and Power is currently replacing the more than 90-year-old, failing pipeline that runs up the main trail which provides the L.A. Fire Department with emergency water supply, a critical public safety repair so serious that it necessitated the current temporary closure having nothing to do with the proposed basketball court. When I took office, I pledged to restore trust in local government and one principle of that must include a public process that is not under the radar. Improvements and changes to park use must be determined with community input and advice from the many groups and individuals that love and use the park. Further, the donation for this project included the right of the donor to place their logo on the court. Many individuals have objected to this public display of a private company logo in a natural habitat and I take very seriously my constituents' concerns about commercialization of our parks.

The joggerati of Runyon Canyon have spoken, and when the joggerati speak, the city listens.