Hollywood Sign Troubles Not Limited to Beachwood

Residents of Wonder View say the neighborhood attracts hikers of the Wisdom Tree Trail, which leads to this backside view of the Hollywood Sign. Photo: James Gubera / Flickr Creative Commons.

HOLLYWOOD KNOLLS—While tourism at the entrance to Griffith Park at Beachwood Canyon Drive has grabbed many media headlines recently after the city closed a popular gate leading to the Hollywood Sign, another group of homeowners at nearby Wonder View Drive, say their neighborhood has suffered from the park’s and the sign’s popularity as well.

However, Wonder View’s situation has some different wrinkles as the hillside street narrows to a dead-end for unwitting drivers.

“This street is much smaller and more difficult to navigate. There are huge numbers of Uber cars and little buses that can’t turn around. You can’t get emergency vehicles up there,” said Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council (HHWNC) President Anastasia Mann.

While Wonder View’s issues are long-running, locals said problems have intensified since the city’s Beachwood gateway closure in April.

At a recent HHWNC meeting, a dozen homeowners demanded Los Angeles’s police, fire, water and power and recreation and parks departments address the situation.

As it snakes up the backside of the Hollywood Hills, Wonder View Drive tapers off into a narrow street, with no sidewalks and parking permitted on only one side, before dead-ending at a Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power-owned property secured by a small gate.

The problem, said residents, is that scores of trespassing hikers regularly climb over the gate into the LADWP-owned parcel to access a trail that leads to a view of the Hollywood Sign’s backside, a situation that has only worsened since the Beachwood access closure, they said.

According to Hollywood Knolls Community Club President Daniel Savage, who also serves on the HHWNC’s board, he and neighbors have witnessed mayhem as the lack of sidewalks forces large groups of hikers, often texting or wearing headphones, to walk up the middle of the street.

Meanwhile, unfamiliar motorists get trapped at Wonder View’s end.

“They wind up banging into people’s cars or bang up their own car on the embankment wall,” said Savage. “They get so frustrated from trying to turn around so they go charging down the street.”

Local Kevin Murphy said he has caught trespassers on video stealing packages from his carport and using his garden hose to fill canteens.

“There are no bathrooms so human waste is a problem. We’ve had to pick up soiled toilet paper and napkins,” he said.

Murphy said he does not disagree with the public’s right to access the hills, “but the problem is infrastructure. There’s no toilets, no trash cans, no sidewalks, no safe place for hikers to walk, no law enforcement to curb graffiti and smoking,” he said.

Wonder View also attracts hikers of the so-called Wisdom Tree Trail.

Inexperienced hikers have been known to underestimate the trail, which ultimately leads to an unrewarding backside view of the Hollywood Sign and sometimes a stretcher by airlift.

Some residents believe Wonder View’s woes are an indirect effect of former Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s enthusiasm for opening up Griffith Park-adjacent streets to hikers and visitors.

In a recent interview, LaBonge, an avid hiker and public access proponent, suggested that Hollywood do what tourist-heavy California communities such as San Simeon and Big Sur do and implement restrictive parking.

According to LaBonge, he believes people buying houses in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign should know better.

“[Current CD4 City Councilmember David] Ryu is very committed to finding a solution to this situation but also you do live next to a public park just like you live near the beach at Venice,” he said.

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