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What Happened to Los Angeles' 22-Mile Hiking Trail?

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A curvy portion of Mulholland Drive, as seen from the Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook parking lot | Photo by jiparker via Flickr

A curvy portion of Mulholland Drive, as seen from the Hollywood Bowl Scenic Overlook parking lot | Photo by jiparker via Flickr
It was back in 1992 when the Mulholland Scenic Parkway Specific Plan went into effect, setting course for the city of Los Angeles to preserve the historic 1924 drive through a set of land use regulations and improvements. Among those was the Core Trail, some 22 miles in length, roughly from near the Hollywood Bowl to Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Approaching 20 years since it became law, some are wondering why nothing has been done.

Actually, some began wondering back in 2001, nine years after it hit the books. In a letter to the Department of Public Works, Lynette Berg Robe, the chair of the city's Mulholland Scenic Parkway Design Review Board, urged the department to begin work on the trail. "Unlike other parks, the land for the Core Trail does not need to be acquired," she explained. "The City's right of way along Mulholland was established long ago. East of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, the right of way is 100 feet wide. West of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, theright of way is 200 feet wide."

A year later, she followed up, this time to City Council members whose districts included the trail. Avid hiker Tom LaBonge was among those addressed, but when recently pressed by LAist about the trail, he said he was unaware of the plan.

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A map marks the Core Trail in red | A gallery of all the maps can be found here
One government source close to the issue, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, likened the trail's construction to political suicide. Currently, much of the public space is being used by land owners under revocable permits, which allows them to landscape or build security fences within the public right-of-way. What politician wants to revoke those permits and tell the wealthy homeowners and campaign donors of Mulholland Drive that a trail that will bring people, cyclists and equestrians outside their homes, the source hypothetically questioned.No matter, it's not just citizen board members wanting the trail to come to life, but the state of California, too. In Februrary of 2006, the Board for the Santa Monica Conservancy passed a resolution (.pdf) urging the city to make the Core Trail a reality.

In the resolution's supporting documents, Robe's letters to the city were cited. "After ten years, it is time for the Core Trail to become a reality," she wrote. "The public deserves the opportunity to walk safely along Mulholland and to enjoy the spectacular views. The Core Trial has been written into law. Now, we need leadership with the will to make it a reality."

17 years later, maybe a re-write of that letter is needed.