If you are a reader, you enjoy sitting home and reading. Modern busy-ness may leave us with little beyond the urge to hunker down and flip open the book or flick on the new Kindle reader. So how about we find a way to talk right here? We can exchange recommendations and offer insights.
I decided to pick up a copy of Moby Dick — or, rather, to download it free to my Kindle. I saw it as a way to begin to avoid reading internet political propaganda, erstwhile known as “news.” Melville got me on Page 1. How little did I remember — or even know — that this was a book of the human mind as it struggles to reach the possible, the horrible, and the wonderful. When I’m done I plan to get the 50s movie and hunker down for another version of this flight of courage.
S.Kerk for HHA
August 2016 interview
|How long have you lived up here on Deronda?
My dad designed and built the house in 1952, so I grew up here. I lived down next to the Village most of my adult life, but when Dad passed away in 2014 I moved back up. For the record: in 1952 the Hollywood sign consisted of the twisted and mangled remains of the old Hollywoodland sign. There were only four or five intact letters.
Are you at the “foot” of the street at “Five Corners” or more up toward the top?
Close to the top.
I know you folks up here are in one of the ‘pinch points’ – are you unified as a block, as a community?
My neighbors on both Deronda and Rockcliff are pretty unified. The only caveat is the last four homes on Deronda and all of the homes on the Deronda side of “Dirt Mulholland” are rentals. That’s eight homes with only one couple at the top and Guy Polhman truly involved in the situation.
Talk to me about the gate at the end of Deronda: When did it get put in and under what circumstances? When did it disappear and under what circumstances? Do you have any idea of who disappeared it?
When I was a kid in the early sixties there was no gate there and at night the Mt. Lee road turned into a popular speedway for guys, their girlfriends and their muscle cars. After one unfortunate drove off the edge and into the canyon killing all in the car, my dad worked with the HHA and the City to install a gate. The existing gate was built in the 1990s, as part of an agreement between developers of the first three houses on “Dirt Mulholland” and the City to allow the builders to gate that portion of Mulholland. Originally, there was a pedestrian gate, but it did just “disappear” a few years later. It’s probably in the bottom of the canyon. The City did not want to bother with a new one.
What’s it like up here on a “bad day”, e.g., a holiday or a beautiful weekend day?
When the HHA performed traffic calculations last spring the daily pedestrian count was between 336 and 1800 per day and the vehicles came it at 96 – 384 per day with PPDs in effect. Deronda also has a very high count of bicyclists, since they love the challenge of the Mt. Lee Road. Unfortunately, most cyclists refuse to obey the speed limit when the get back on Deronda and it is a nightmare for drivers – an accident waiting to happen. Both this summer and last there has been a sharp uptick in people walking up to the park at dusk when, theoretically, the park is closed. My biggest complaint about all these visitors is that they are so frigging noisy and most have no regard for private property. They are oblivious to the fact that they are in a residential neighborhood, a once very quiet residential neighborhood.
Was it worse before the PPDs?
Before the PPDs it once took me fourteen minutes to turn into my driveway from two houses down the road. It was absolute gridlock. Now the vehicular traffic is much better, but the pedestrians have increased.
Tell me about the ‘service road.’ Who uses the service road, how often, and how do they feel about the visitors?
When Hollywoodland was first drawn up in 1923 that road was part of Mulholland Hwy. and was part of the original tract. But when the Sherman Company deeded the Hollywoodland Gifted Park to the City, the road was re-marked on official maps as an easement to what then was Don Lee Broadcasting at the top of the hill. After the City purchased Don Lee’s property for civil defense the road became a service road for City employees.
The City facility atop of Mt. Lee is the emergency communications center for Los Angeles and all of its employees, as well as General Services and Recreation & Park workers, use the road. The majority of the traffic occurs at the three shift changes every day. The IT staff workers I have talked to are very unhappy about the crowds outside the facility and dread the drives up and down the hill. Last Memorial Day around 11AM that service road looked like Main Street, Disneyland there were so many people on it.
How do they feel about the gate?
When the gate first went in in the 60s the City workers hated it. They now wish for more gates and razor-wired fences. On busy days they have to shoo parked cars and people away just to get through the gate. LAFD has to do the same thing.
The workers up there – are they city, county, or state?
A little bit of everybody. Mostly City IT, General Services and LAPD, but the State has an emergency communications presence, as do the Feds with Homeland Security and a couple of other agencies.
OK, how often do they have to use their loud speakers to warn people that they are trespassing and must leave?
At a minimum a couple of times a day, but on busy days maybe up to ten to fifteen shout-outs from the LAPD.
Do you hear the loud speakers in your homes if the windows are open?
Sure. There are quite a few of us who can quote the whole warning by heart.
What is the danger up there? Why can’t people walk up there?
The loudspeakers warn people who have either climbed down to the sign from the top or who are climbing up the ridges to get there. Apparently a whole lot of people can’t read the warning signs or just don’t believe them. A few times the security officer in the facility has to call in the LAPD chopper to buzz the trespassers and shout from his loudspeaker on the aircraft. You would think with all that shouting, the City would come up with another plan.
What would help your situation? A gate?
Put the pedestrian gate back up on Deronda and another on the opening to “Dirt Mulholland” with, at minimum, timed locks that open and shut with the Park’s official hours, which according to their website, is sunrise to sundown. Personally, I would be happy if they would move the Hollywood Sign to a dedicated and official tourist destination and give us our peace back.
How about the city diverting people from all of Hollywoodland. Would you be in favor of that?
Absolutely. We are not the entrance to a national monument. We are a neighborhood – in a high fire severity zone.
When you think back to 6, 10, 20 years ago, what do you miss most about the Old Hollywoodland and what features do you fear or dislike the most?
When I was a kid it was like Mayberry. But, even up to ten years ago it was place you looked forward to coming home to – quiet, peaceful and safe. I miss that and all of the wildlife that also called it home. When we lose the peace and wildness in our lives, our human existence is lessened.
What would you like Hollywoodlanders who live far, far away from one of these check points? We have such a diverse set of dwellers: those like you and those whose kitchens overlook the entrance at the top of Beachwood, and then there are those on Lambert, lower Hollyridge, even southerly Durand, Flagmoor—they do not experience what you experience. What do you want to say to them?
We are all in this together. If out of frustration the residents at the choke points start leaving, it will have a domino effect down the hill. And this once beautiful, intact community will become a neighborhood of renters, AirBnBs and, most likely, parking lots for visitors.
Here is a place for discussion. We invite members-only to post about important and often sensitive topics and then we invite members-only to respond. Our Facebook group can be seen in a different light: there you might spot a coyote, ask for a recipe, complain about noise, or rapsodize about a sunset. Here we call for intelligent, informed, open, polite opinions on critical matters of safety, trust, value, and tranquillity in Hollywoodland. We begin with two opposing views of the sign itself.
OPEN LETTER FROM GREG WILLIAMS, owner business Real Estate in the Village
I am all for saving everything that is left of historic Hollywood. And the Hollywood sign isn’t one of them.The original sign read Hollywoodland and was known as the Hollywoodland sign. It was constructed to encourage homeowners to live in Hollywoodland beginning in 1923. It’s gone.
The Hollywoodland sign fell down so many times, they removed the “land” forever in 1949 and rebuilt only the “Hollywood”part. Ever since then, it has been attached and represents another area directly south of us. In 1973, this sign was declared a Los Angeles Cultural Monument. This sign is gone too.
In 1978 it was completely rebuilt on a new foundation. This sign has nothing original nor historic to it. It’s a billboard that sells a brand that is not associated with Hollywoodland. It represents the Hollywood to the south where much of the historic neighborhood has disappeared since 1986– especially around Highland and Vine. The sign represents this “new” Hollywood, our local Manahttan where no one can see the sign because of all the over-development. (Although I suppose if you move into one of the new luxury apartments you could pay for a great view of the sign.)
It makes more sense to move it where people may access and see it safely and more easily. Especially since it no longer represent the neighborhood it is destroying. Why not move it near a local subway stop? Visitors can even climb on it if they sign a release.
Then we could dedicate the hole it leaves on the hill to parkland for our precious wildlife.
ALTERNATIVE VIEW FROM NEW RESIDENT, Doran Ofir (reprinted from a post on Facebook)
Hi – I don’t want to start a whole thing but I just wanted to add my voice. There are a lot of posts regarding the sign and proclamations to move it. I love the sign – it’s why I moved here. It was the actual draw that brought me to the neighborhood. It was my childhood dream. A poster of the sign hung over my bed on the east coast. Today it’s outside my window. Maybe I’m the only one, but if it weren’t for the sign and the unique hollywoodland gate then this neighborhood becomes less unique, less special, less magical!! It becomes just the Hollywood Hills. I for one didn’t want to live on lookout mountain. I still don’t. I wish the sign was lit up at night till like 11pm. This neighborhood means dreamed fulfilled for me and millions of people worldwide equate the sign with their dreams. So many in this group seem to hate it and what comes with it. I for one embrace it. I wave at the tourists, I redirect them when lost, I’ve taken my share of photos for them. I’m proud to live here.