AirTalk for September 20, 2011

The Hollywood sign a tourist-free zone?

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David McNew/Getty Images

The Hollywood Sign.

While City Councilman Tom LaBonge hopes to keep the famous Hollywood sign welcome to curious outsiders, some reluctant residents fear the tourists who come to view it cause safety issues and want them directed elsewhere. LaBonge and fellow councilman Eric Garcetti are hosting a community meeting today to discuss it all.

The Hollywood sign was originally erected as an advertisement for real estate development in 1923. Its intent to grab attention worked, and the famous landmark draws more tourists than ever. Aided by technological advancements like GPS, eager tourists can now wind through the maze of neighborhood streets to find optimal vistas, causing an influx in neighborhood traffic.

Unsupervised visitors and cars can also block traffic and roadways. Sarajane Schwartz, president of the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association, said if the community’s safety is being compromised, the tourists need to go.

“Our infrastructure is almost a hundred years old, and it was never made to be a tourist destination. You find now people literally in the street, taking photographs in the middle of blind curves, kind of signaling you to go around them. You know, into a head on collision,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz suggested the city build an official viewing site outside of the neighborhood. Councilman LaBonge is open to the district’s concerns, but has encountered difficulty finding a location to redirect traffic. His past proposal to add a viewing platform by Beachwood Canyon Market was rejected. LaBonge said there must be compromise.

“The complaint I hear from residents often is they don’t like these people up here. I understand. I wish there was an Eiffel Tower at Gower and Hollywood Boulevard which would be right in front of the sign. Right now we have all these challenges. I’m working with the police department, the fire department. There are two different sets of views from neighborhood associations … so you try to balance these things out and do the right thing for the public,” said LaBonge.

LaBonge has workers cleaning up the area everyday for fire prevention while he continues to devise a solution.

“We’re going to look at everything, but they are public streets,” LaBonge said. “You’ve got to treat everybody fairly. You can’t just say you’re a tourist, go home, but you live in Beachwood, you can come.”

WEIGH IN:

Should tourists be redirected around neighborhood streets, or is tourism beneficial to the community?

Guest:

Sarajane Schwartz, President, Hollywoodland Homeowners Association

Tom LaBonge, City Councilman, Los Angeles City Council


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