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Neighbors angry over newest Hollywood sign viewing area

September 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hollywood residents say that over the years they've been very patient with tourists. But now they're saying "enough is enough." People living near the Hollywood sign are being inundated by tourists.

Neighbors say for decades they've welcomed tourists to the Hollywood sign, one of America's most iconic landmarks. But, they say, over the last few years, that it's become a public nuisance and a public-safety issue.

It was like a heated city council meeting played out under the Hollywood sign Monday: Hollywoodland Homeowners Association (HHA) President Sarajane Schwartz confronted L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge about what she and other neighbors see as a big problem in their neighborhood.

"I see people smoking on their way to get here, throwing cigarettes out, so just clearing this little section does not protect our neighborhood from the thousands of cars that you are inviting into our neighborhood," Schwartz told LaBonge.

Neighbors say an influx of tourists coming to see the sign have congested their streets, threatening public safety by blocking fire-engine routes and smoking in the brushy area.

"They're in the middle of the street, they don't move," said area resident Ronald Page. "You have to blow your horn, cars going around, people hollering up there and what have you. It's just getting out of hand now."

LaBonge says his concern is safety too since it is a public area.

"I would rather have people here in this park area, than up in their own streets, right next to a better view of the sign, because of the hazards," said LaBonge.

The furor grew when LaBonge and his staff cleared and cleaned up a small park area, making the public land a more conducive spot to stop and take a picture.

In the meantime, those who came to make their Hollywood pilgrimage were a bit taken aback.

"If you're going to live on this street, you kind of have to accept that people are going to be coming up here because they can't really move the sign and it's been here for years and years, and people have been coming and they'll continue to come," said Calabasas resident Samantha Rubanowitz.

"I definitely felt a little self-conscious that I was driving through someone's backyard to get up here, so I can understand, but it's not exactly the most isolated place that they could have picked to buy a house," said Alaskan tourist Alex Johnson.

The HHA says it wants the city to establish a viewing area away from their neighborhood. LaBonge tried to establish one down the street, but the community rejected it.

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