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New effort to protect iconic Hollywood sign

February 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Developers want to build mansions near the Hollywood sign, but preservationists are fighting to protect the landmark.It is Hollywood's sign but it is surrounded by land that belongs to private investors, and those investors have ideas for this peak that involve big numbers instead of big letters.

"How they have been marketing the site is for high-end residential home sites along the ridge line," said Sam Hodder of Trust for Public Land.

"If it was scarred with development up here, it would ruin the view of this side. This is a magic mountain with a magic tree, and we are going to use a little magic to raise a little money," said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

LaBonge calls for contributions and is campaigning to purchase the 138-acre site.

For over 85 years, the land has traded hands at bargain basement prices. Now, the cost is set at $12.5 million. The Trust for Public Land finds itself $5.5 million short, and they have only two more months to raise it.

"Yes, right now there is definitely a sense of urgency. We don't have an extension with the landowners. We have an April 14 deadline," said Paige Rausser of Trust for Public Land.

Many tourists say it is more than just a sign.

"Dreams, you know what I am saying? Opportunities that people can have to come here and make things happen," said Lequan Buyard, a Long Beach resident.

"It would tell us when there is money, you can do anything and get rid of anything and anyone it would be really sad," said Miriam Sada, a Simi Valley resident.

The site has long been the subject of many pranks and PR gimmicks. Look for a new one in the next 24 hours. The entire sign will be covered with a banner to spell out "save the peak" as a way to get more attention and more donations.

"We have been given one opportunity and one opportunity only to do this," said Rausser.

"You look at the United States you have Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood sign, name the next iconic monument," said LaBonge.

"If it's gone, what else are people going to run around trying to take a picture of?" Buyard asked.

The exact time for the big banner cover up is not yet known.


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