Los Angeles' Hollywood Sign atop Mount Lee is one of Southern California's biggest tourist attractions. But it's also surrounded by residential neighborhoods and rough terrain in the Santa Monica Mountains. Neighbors, fed up with traffic, got a judge to shut down one point of access — via the Hollyridge trailhead — last month. A new lawsuit seeks to reopen that trailhead.
The closure leaves viable public access in question, and city leaders are being pressured to act. Mayor Eric Garcetti over the weekend might have come up with a solution: a gondola that would ferry tourists to the sign from more abundant parking beyond the neighborhoods.
Garcetti, speaking to ABC Eyewitness News, suggested that a gondola could start at Universal Studios and run to the Hollywood Sign, with residents below being none the worse for wear. "I think we need to have access to the Hollywood Sign, both for residents and people who come here," he told the station.
"We've got to figure out a better way that doesn't just choke all of the streets with a thousand tour buses. People can't get out of their own driveways," he said.
Mayoral press secretary George Kivork said via email that developing a gondola is a serious idea: "Mayor Garcetti is open to exploring ideas that ease congestion, and he encourages creative thinking when looking at ways to give Angelenos and tourists better access to the Hollywood Sign and other iconic landmarks and destinations."
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Estevan Montemayor, spokesman for area Councilman David Ryu, said via email, "At this point, it's just an idea." The councilman is focused more on a $100,000, council-approved study to figure out how to improve getting in and out of Griffith Park and the Hollywood Sign area. "His first priority is to move forward on the park access and mobility study he initiated and funded, which will provide the city with the data necessary to make future decisions around the Hollywood Sign," Montemayor said.
Real estate agent Crosby Doe, a longtime critic of the area's traffic woes, is in favor of a gondola. In fact, he notes, it's an idea that has been kicked around since at least the 1990s. "I'm encouraged that the mayor is thinking creatively for solutions that are outside the box that may well work for all the neighborhoods of Los Angeles," he says.
"It could be a great revenue source for the city," he says. "This could be a really wonderful idea."