In 1923, the Hollywoodland sign was erected to advertise the burgeoning area of California that would eventually be renamed simply Hollywood. The center of film and television production that grew into a behemoth of talent and power, the town has always been known for its glamour and its beauty. In fact, it's such a well known town that tourists come in by the busload just to see the damned sign itself, let alone all of the other tourist attractions that populate the town. Unfortunately, this isn't such a good deal for the people that actually live near the sign, and it's causing some friction between tourists and locals.
The Hollywood Reporter ran an interesting piece today about how the residents of nearby Beachwood Canyon are plagued with possibly the most intrusive breed of tourists ever, and they're sick to death of the invasion. While most tourist traps are merely crowded and a bit inconveniencing to the actual residents, the Hollywood sign is a spot that is a little more geographically complicated than a typical tourism hot spot.
For starters, there's the risk of hikers getting injured, thanks to the rocky terrain that the sign is mounted on. The trade says that people are regularly visiting the sign at night, falling down, getting hurt, and then going to the houses of put-out residents asking for help. This is a scenario that resident and VFX supervisor Jeffrey Kleiser, who worked on the original Robocop, has encountered many times while living in the home closest in proximity to the landmark. As he told THR in an interview, "It's more drama than you want when you're leading a peaceful life."
On top of the accidental injuries of tourists, there's also been everything from clogged streets filled with cars of star struck visitors, to accidental fires set by cigarette butts, to even used condoms being found in parts of the area. While the Hollywood sign is alluring, it seems to be drawing the worst kind of crowd. It's getting so bad, in fact, that there even appears to be the threat of violence around the corner. Said homeowner Heather Hamza in an interview,
"There is rising, palpable tension between the residents and visitors. Everybody is infuriated. I shudder to think if any of these people coming up here have weapons in their cars. One of these days someone will get shot — it is that bad."
To make the situation even worse, the Hollywood sign isn't even pulling in any money to save itself. Despite its popularity, the Hollywood sign is in a legal quagmire where it's owned by the city but maintained by the state... and all the while, the sign doesn't draw in any direct revenue by existing. So there's no money coming in, and there are hordes of obnoxious tourists who don't seem to really respect the area. It's not hard to see why so many residents are pissed off.
The situation has gotten so bad that there's a contingent of L.A. residents who don't want a sign up on the mountain at all. And really, who can blame them? They paid a lot of money to live in a rather secluded area, and residents that would rather just be left alone to enjoy their pieces of real estate without noisy, messy, and sometimes hostile tourists. Not to mention there's disputing opinions on whether the area is safe or not for people to safely evacuate in case of a large fire.
One would think that there could be a happy medium in which the Hollywood sign could stay, while at the same time becoming more of a formal tourist spot with national park rangers and regulations to look over the integrity of the area. There might be an opportunity here for the city and the state governments to get together and formulate a plan that both satisfies tourists and homeowners; and carves out a nice profit. Knowing the way things work in Hollywood, though, it'll take a miracle to get everyone to play ball together.