HOLLYWOOD — Mayor Eric Garcetti has an idea on how to get tourists to the Hollywood sign without clogging hillside streets and hiking paths, which irritates Hollywood Hills resident: build a gondola to ferry visitors to the landmark.
“What could we do to actually bring people to the summit, to where the Hollywood sign is, without going through the neighborhoods to the south?” Garcetti mused during an interview on ABC 7.
In the past, “everybody just viewed that as a pipe dream,” Leron Gubler, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that the idea dates back at least two decades.
But after the city closed off a Beachwood Drive gate leading to one of the most popular trails, there is fresh debate over how Los Angeles can both protect neighborhoods and ensure access to the sign.
The city started blocking the gate after a legal fight over hordes of hikers trekking near a Beachwood Drive ranch, interfering with its day-to-day use. Griffith Park preservationists are challenging that move, arguing that the city should have considered alternative ways to protect the ranch while preserving pedestrian access.
A gondola “would certainly provide another access point for tourists,” Marian Dodge, president of Friends of Griffith Park, one of the groups contesting the city decision, told The Times. “But it would not resolve the problem for residents who want to walk up their street and go for a hike.”
No formal proposal for the gondola exists. Garcetti told ABC 7 he had been discussing ideas with City Councilman David Ryu, who represents Beachwood Canyon and other affected parts of the Hollywood Hills. Spokesman Estevan Montemayor said it was “one of many ideas” that Ryu was open to. “However, at this point, it’s just an idea.”
Garcetti spokesman George Kivork said in a written statement cited by The Times that the mayor was “open to exploring ideas that ease congestion and encourages creative thinking when looking at ways to give Angelenos and tourists better access to the Hollywood sign and other iconic landmarks and destinations.”
Garcetti suggested in his televised interview that a gondola could come from the Universal Studios area and generate revenue to relieve traffic and improve Griffith Park.