App Wants to Give L.A. $80 Mil to Rename Runyon Canyon Park
The people behind a new celebrity-spotting app are trying to make a big splash in Southern California. If their words are to be believed, they want to give the people of Los Angeles $80 million.
Of course, there are strings attached. The makers of Exley, scheduled to launch Monday morning, want the naming rights to our beloved Runyon Canyon Park. LOL, right? Not so fast ...
Exley's CEO, Tino Dietrich, sent a letter to the Recreation and Parks Commission's president, Barry Sanders, offering "in the neighborhood of $80,000,000.00 in exchange for the commercial naming rights to Runyon Canyon Park for the next 30 years."
He wants to call it "Exley Canyon Park."
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The app makers want to do the same at
Central Park Times Square in New York, for the same price. The letter sent to Sanders is low on details, saying mainly that we should talk.
We reached out to the Department of Recreation and Parks, as well as to the office of local City Councilman Tom LaBonge, but had yet to hear back.
It sounds like a publicity stunt to us, but you never know.
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Surprisingly, a few local activists we talked to were not entirely opposed to the idea, given that the park is in the throes of a controversy over a private gate recently installed at a popular entrance to the canyon.
We're told that the gate hasn't been shut, but it could be.
LaBonge has proposed buying property in the area to keep that access point open. Maybe $80 million could help.
Peter Hill, a longtime activist in the area concerned with preserving the park, says of the offer:
I think it's hilariously funny. But if they could create a fund specially for Runyon, I wouldn't have too much of a problem with it.
Neighborhood leader Randy Dodge:
I just think if they do get the $80 million, they could get rid of this whole gate thing. The park, I think everybody loves it the way it is. But my opinion is, if some of it went to help out with the park, it might be OK.
It appears the app will attempt to crowdsource information on celebrities, including where they might be at any given time. It would depend on tipsters to provide the information to the rest of us.
Spokesman Zack Teperman told us that investors who are originally from Europe are behind the enterprise. The app, whichalso will provide celebrity news, feels to us like it would be a cross between TMZ and Foursquare. Teperman:
Say you're heading to New York and you want to know which celebrities are there. It will actually tell you, Angelina Jolie is at this restaurant right now.
Runyon Canyon, he says, was Exley CEO Dietrich's choice:
It is in the heart of the celebrity lifestyle in L.A.: Ryan Gosling hikes it every day, and a lot of the celebrities' homes are concentrated in the hill areas of the city.
Next up: Google Beach.