Popular Trailhead to Close to Public
GRIFFITH PARK—Los Angeles City officials today announced a controversial gate at the end of Beachwood Canyon Drive—known as the Beachwood Trailhead that leads hikers and tourists to breathtaking and close up views of the famed Hollywood Sign via the Hollyridge Trail—will soon be closed to pedestrians, due to a court order.
According to the city, hikers and tourists will instead be redirected in the next couple of weeks to other park entrances to get close to the sign, namely via Canyon and Vermont Canyon roads.
City officials took the action today after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in February that the publics’ access through the gate—estimated at 15,000 a month—had interfered with the business of Sunset Ranch, a horse riding stable located about .2 a mile from the Beachwood Trailhead, which filed a lawsuit in the matter in 2015.
The trailhead and its gate has served as the only entrance to the ranch since at least 1940—when an easement agreement was signed that guaranteed the ranch the right to use the trailhead in perpetuity for access to its privately owned, two-acre parcel inside Griffith Park. There is no other way to access the ranch from public roads.
In their lawsuit, ranch owners claimed the public, which has grown exponentially since the advent of GPS, was trespassing on that easement; that the influx of so many pedestrians had hurt their business; and a security guard at the gate hired by the area’s former councilmember in 2014, had turned some of their business away.
The same trailhead, however, has been the only access point, since 2001, to Griffith Park from Beachwood Canyon.
While the court did not agree the ranch had exclusive use of the easement leading to its property, it did rule the influx of tourists and hikers had interfered with its business and ordered the city to come up with an alternative entry point for hikers and tourists “at a location as closest” as practical by yesterday.
Some homeowners, fed up with the tourists, who they claim have posed a severe safety risk, said they are thrilled with the ruling.
“I think it’s wonderful that as a byproduct of this [lawsuit], visitors will be directed to a safe and comfortable location where there is adequate infrastructure to gain access to the Hollywood Sign,” said local resident Sarajane Schwartz, who is part of another lawsuit against the city on the same issue.
Canyon Road, one of the alternative access points offered by the city—which is near the Bronson Caves, of Batman fame—offers parking and restrooms.
But others say there should never be any closures to a public park and entering the park from other locations to get near the Hollywood Sign, is inconvenient and not a good solution.
“The city has used [the court ruling] as an excuse to close [the Beachwood Trailhead] altogether and redirect pedestrian traffic to Bronson Canyon, which adds about 2.7 in each direction to my walk,” said Tony Castanares, a retired attorney and longtime Beachwood Canyon resident who said he feels park access should always be open. “If I have to enter through [Canyon Drive] it’s an hour and 45 minutes in each direction, which multiplies the distance and utility of this access to me.”
For his part, current Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu has tried a number of remedies to stave off the impact of so many tourists in the area, while trying to keep the trailhead at Beachwood Canyon open, including the installation of weekend and holiday parking restrictions along two-thirds of Beachwood Canyon Drive. That appeased some homeowners, but some local store owners of the area’s tiny village, say they hurt their business.
Ryu has also been working on a comprehensive traffic mitigation plan for all of Griffith Park, including a shuttle program.
“Now that the Sunset Ranch litigation is done, we can focus on the work at hand. 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,” he said in a statement today.