Park Access at Beachwood Closed

PROTEST—About 60 people gathered April 15th to protest in advance of the city’s April 18th closure of a gate at the end of Beachwood Canyon Drive—per a court order—which had become a favorite access point to Griffith Park and the iconic Hollywood Sign. Some say they will continue to pressure the city to come up with another solution. Photo: Michael Aushenker.

GRIFFITH PARK—The city of Los Angeles closed a popular access point to Griffith Park April 18th.

City officials closed access at the Beachwood Canyon Trailhead after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in February that the public’s access through the trailhead’s gate—estimated at 15,000 a month—had interfered with the business of a nearby horse stable called Sunset Ranch, which filed a lawsuit on the matter in 2015.

While some area homeowners were thrilled by the closure, saying tourists and hikers have overrun their once quiet neighborhood to access the trailhead to get close to the sign, others vowed to continue to pressure the city to rethink its action.

“We oppose any trail closures to the park,” said Chris Laib, chair of the Los Feliz Improvement Assoc.’s parks committee. “It was a condition of the Griffith gift that the park be available to all Angelenos.”

Griffith J. Griffith donated most of the land for Griffith Park to the city in 1896. One of Griffith’s caveats for the donation was that the park was to always remain free and accessible by all.

Now those interested in getting close to the Hollywood Sign must drive about 2 1/2 miles to the Canyon Drive entrance of Griffith Park, or farther away to those at Vermont Canyon, Lake Hollywood and the Griffith Observatory.

“Kicking the can further east,” said Laib. “That is not problem-solving. It’s just creating new gridlock for other neighborhoods.”

Sarajane Schwartz, currently involved in a separate lawsuit with the city over the same issue, said she praises the city’s decision.

“This was a win for everybody,” she said. “It’s outrageous that someone had to sue the city to get it shut. It’s like having a pool without a lifeguard.”

Recently, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu extended the contract for a consultant to further study and make recommendations on the issue.

“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,” Ryu said in a statement.

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