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Council votes to explore tram to Hollywood sign

LOS ANGELES — With traffic congestion and safety issues worsening in recent years around the Hollywood sign, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Oct. 3 to move forward on exploring an aerial tram, visitor center and various other changes to the area.

“For far too long, our city has gone without a comprehensive plan to address safety, access and mobility around the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park,” City Councilman David Ryu said. “That changes today.”

Dixon Resources Unlimited, a transportation consulting firm, was hired by the city to conduct a comprehensive analysis on how to enhance the visitor experience at the sign and address problems created in surrounding neighborhoods by the thousands of visitors who flock to the area each year, many aided by traffic and ride-hailing mobile apps.

A joint report from the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst and the Department of Recreation of Parks examined the 29 recommendations made by Dixon and found that 20 are feasible, seven others require further study, and two — including a second Hollywood sign — were not feasible.

The council’s vote instructs city departments to take first steps on 19 of the 29 strategies proposed in the Dixon report, including installing new sidewalks, implementing specific ride-hailing zones and traffic calming measures, and creating safer access studies. The city also will study the feasibility of an electric shuttle bus route, visitor center and aerial tram.

“The Hollywood sign is the icon of our city,” Ryu said. “And the resources it has for safety and access should reflect that. We cannot stand by as visitors continue to struggle with access to this world-renowned icon, and neighbors continue to suffer the impacts of lost tourists. We can and we must take action that prioritizes both public safety and park access.”

In 2017, a lawsuit filed by the operator of Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables, which provides horseback rides in Griffith Park, complained that the city was funneling hikers onto its “exclusive easement road.”

In February 2017, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that hikers could not be barred from using the easement area. However, the judge also concluded that the city had channeled thousands of pedestrians toward the ranch every month, blocking access to the property.

The next month, the city agreed to spend $100,000 on a traffic study in and around Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign.

In April, the city announced it would permanently close the Beachwood Drive gate to the Hollyridge Trail to obey the court order issued in February.

But a motion filed in Los Angeles Superior Court May 1 by Friends of Griffith Park, the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust and the Los Feliz Oaks Homeowners Association claimed that the city’s action directly contradicted the judge’s ruling.

“A basic right of Angelenos is access to its public parks. Any access threatened by special interest groups to Griffith Park land is a violation of Colonel Griffith’s declaration that the park be free and open to all,” said Clare Darden, a trustee for the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust.

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