Community groups lose fight to reopen trailhead to Hollywood Sign

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A Superior Court judge dealt a significant blow Thursday to efforts to reopen the Beachwood Canyon access point to the popular Hollyridge Trail, which leads to the Hollywood Sign.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Judge James Chalfant ruled against a group of community organizations that sued the city last year after the Beachwood gate to Griffith Park was closed to hikers.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including Friends of Griffith Park, the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust, and the Los Feliz Homeowners Association, argued that the city should have conducted a public outreach process before closing the gate in April of last year.

But the city maintained that it had closed the gate in response to a lawsuit from the Sunset Ranch Stables and had no obligation to clear the plan with the Recreation and Parks Commission. Chalfant agreed, leaving those hoping to reopen the popular trailhead with few options (though the decision could still be appealed).

Debate over public access to the trailhead has been fierce in recent years, with some nearby residents arguing that the sign attracts more visitors than the neighborhood is equipped to handle. Others maintain that the city’s decision to close the gate was a defeat for the greater public.

Parks superintendent Joe Salaices said last year that the closure was “heartbreaking for homeowners, and … disappointing to the department.”

Councilmember David Ryu criticized the organizers of the lawsuit Thursday, suggesting there were better ways to improve access to Griffith Park and the Hollywood Sign.

“The more time we spend on costly litigation is less time we are spending on finding solutions that work for everyone,” said Ryu in a statement.

Last month, the City Council asked staffers to take a closer look at a recent report on ways to increase access to the Hollywood Sign and decrease congestion around Griffith Park. The report featured a few big-picture solutions, including an aerial tram and a replica sign that would loom over the San Fernando Valley.

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