Ryu Introduces Motion to Ease Impacts of Tourism Surge
In conjunction with groundbreaking tourism statistics released this morning, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu today introduced a motion asking city officials to find ways to neutralize the millions of tourists visiting the city each year—especially for residential neighborhoods adjacent to tourist magnets.
According to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Los Angeles had 47.3 million visitors in 2016, an increase of nearly 4% over 2015, marking the sixth consecutive year of tourism growth.
Additionally, Mayor Eric Garcetti has reportedly said he wants the numbers to only grow more, to 50 million visitors by 2020.
Ryu’s motion calls for a handful of items, including the establishment of and staffing for visitors centers throughout the city, a public information campaign to help tourists navigate the not-so-easily navigable sprawling city and the reinvestment of tourism dollars back into the neighborhoods most impacted by tourist destinations.
Ryu represents Council District 4, which is home to many of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions such as Griffith Park, Universal Studios, Runyon Canyon, the Greek Theater, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Hollywood Sign.
“Tourism in Los Angeles is substantial to the [c]ity’s local economy, culture and quality of life. Yet the impacts of tourism are unsustainable long-term without the proper infrastructure,” Ryu said in a statement.
Beachwood Canyon residents who live directly underneath the Hollywood Sign have complained for years their neighborhood has been overrun with tourists attempting to get near the sign.
A trailhead in the neighborhood, which leads to the sign, was mostly secret until the advent of GPS and smartphones.
The area has no bathroom, no parking lot and no water fountains. The streets are tiny and without sidewalks.
Cars park illegally wherever a spot can be found and tourists, locals say, are known for relieving themselves in homeowners’ front yards.
A prankster on New Year’s Day, who changed the iconic sign to read “Hollyweed,” in a nod to the recent statewide vote to make marijuana legal, didn’t help matters. Near the sign is also the city’s central communications facility, including a tower used by city agencies including the police and fire departments.
Local residents say they just no longer feel safe.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” said Laura Davis, a Beachwood homeowner, who has lived in the area since 1987. “But no one is turning cartwheels. But [Ryu] did go on the record,” with an official city motion, she said. “That can only be a good thing.”
Sheila Irani, the president of the Lake Hollywood Homeowners Assoc. and a boardmember of two area neighborhood councils applauded Ryu’s motion saying it would improve things for all involved and give homeowners most impacted a voice.
“I don’t think Los Angeles does well with embracing the homeowners’ and the tax payers’ needs with the visitor’s needs,” Irani said. Additionally, she said, “a study will allow our homeowners to have a seat at the table in creating a solution.”
Other area homeowners aren’t as convinced.
“This is a motion to go study something that [Ryu] studied a year ago,” said area resident Tony Fisch of nearby Lake Hollywood Estates.
Fisch has been outspoken that Ryu promised during his election he would fix the problem. For Fisch, his concern is all about hazards brought into the area by so many tourists.
“I go to bed each night,” he said, “and wonder if there will be a fire.”
For Fisch, every single day counts. He said he has recently, in frustration, put his house on the market to sell.
“Ryu’s motion is a do nothing motion to have a board motivated by tourism look and make suggestions at the same problems Ryu has been aware of for over 18 months,” Fisch said. “Its deflection and nothing more than a [public relations] gimmick to remove the press heat that he has felt as of late as result of lawlessness up here and the Hollyweed incident.”
But according to Ryu spokesperson Estevan Montemayor, the councilmember has been working diligently on relief for Beachwood area residents since taking office in 2015.
“We have implemented some mitigations,” Montemayor said. “Long term goals are not going to happen over night.
Ryu’s motion must first be approved by the full City Council. With that approval, various agencies will have 45 days to report back on their findings.
This story was updated January 16, 2017 with comments from Lake Hollywood Homeowners Assoc. President Sheila Irani.