“Improper Backroom Deal” by City of Los Angeles that permanently closed Public Access to World Famous Hollywood Sign Via Popular Griffith Park Trailhead Legally Challenged by Motion to Intervene In Lawsuit
Friends of Griffith Park, together with the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust, and the Los Feliz Oaks Homeowners Association, filed a Motion in Los Angeles Superior Court today challenging the City of Los Angeles’ decision to close the Beachwood Gate to the Hollyridge Trail in Griffith Park on April 18, 2017.
On March 13th, the City announced its decision to close permanently access to the Hollyridge Trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon, claiming that it acted in response to a ruling in the pending court case of Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables vs. City of Los Angeles. The Hollyridge Trail accessed from this area has been used by hikers since the 1920s. The popular trail affords one of the easiest access points and best views of the world famous Los Angeles landmark, the Hollywood Sign. Nearby resident associations – Los Feliz Improvement Association, Oaks Homeowners Association, Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association, and Lake Hollywood Homeowners Association – were shocked to learn of the City’s decision especially since it directly contradicts the judge’s ruling.
The judge determined that Sunset Ranch does not have an exclusive right to the access road that leads to the trailhead and cannot exclude members of the public from that easement, and that the City must provide public pedestrian access to the Hollyridge Trail at a point close to the Beachwood Gate. Instead the City and Sunset Ranch entered into what petitioners charge was an “improper backroom deal” in which they decided to close the gate at Beachwood Canyon completely, giving control over a gate (paid for at taxpayer expense) and a trailhead (which belongs to the public) to a private party, forever.
The Motion to Intervene is an action taken so that entities not named in the original lawsuit become parties, to protect an important interest. The reasons for the Motion to Intervene include: the elimination of the access to Griffith Park, a public park, at a much-used access point; creation of a grave public-safety risk in adjoining communities; improper transfer of public land to a private party; and more. The petitioners claim the city misled the court and tried to stipulate away rights held by the public for the public good. The legal filing argues that, at a minimum, these actions violate the Los Angeles City Charter, the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), and various provisions of state law. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit to protect public access to Griffith Park, to correct the record, and to represent the interests of taxpayers and the common good.
Clare Darden, Trustee for Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust, said, “A basic right of Angelenos is access to its public parks. Any access threatened by special interest groups to Griffith Park land is a violation of Colonel Griffith’s declaration that the park be free and open to all.”
“The city’s decision to close access to Griffith Park at the Beachwood gate sets a terrible precedent for closing other access points. Friends of Griffith Park wants to assure that the public continues to have access to this magnificent public park,” added Marian Dodge, President of Friends of Griffith Park.
The City’s Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Mike Shull has frequently assured the community that he wants to keep entrances to Griffith Park – specifically the entrance in Beachwood Canyon – open to the public. Friends of Griffith Park urges Shull and Councilmember Ryu to take a second look at the Beachwood Gate closure and devise a way to allow public access from Beachwood Canyon. Closing one trailhead sets an unacceptable precedent for closing others. Major trailheads with wide trails or fire roads are important in order to provide the public with safe hiking routes, while protecting the park’s rich habitat and wildlife.
In 2014 Friends of Griffith Park weighed in on the city’s proposal to close pedestrian access during the gate construction phase, which was a very different story from what is now being presented as RAP’s final decision. Read FoGPs 2014 letter.
See below for media concerning the closure.
Friends of Griffith Park (FoGP) is a California non-profit 501(c) (3) dedicated to preserving and protecting Griffith Park’s natural habitat, biodiversity, and historic features, for current and future generations. FoGP is committed to ensuring that Griffith Park, a public park and Los Angeles’ largest Historic-Cultural Monument, remain open, natural, and free to all citizens of Los Angeles. The decision to end pedestrian access to Griffith Park from Beachwood Canyon strikes at the heart of FoGP’s principles for open access for park patrons. FoGP also has an interest in ensuring accountable, responsive government and in protecting the region’s environment and the public’s environmental and quality-of-life amenities.
The Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust (Griffith Park Trust), has roots dating back a century. The trust makes consistent efforts to protect the basic premise underlying Colonel Griffith’s gift of Griffith Park to the City, and supports ongoing activities in the park. Public access to the park is a part of its core mission. The Griffith Park Trust famously objected when the City attempted to institute a fee for driving automobiles into the park. Today, it is supporting a much more basic issue: the right of pedestrians to access one of the park’s trailheads, which gives hikers access to the park’s entire network of trails. The Griffith Park Trust has reversionary rights to Griffith Park if the City violates the terms of the original grant.
Your voice needs to be heard
Please Sign the Petition to Maintain Open Access Public Access Petition
or Contact: CD4 Councilmember David Ryu firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (213) 473-7004
LA Rec and Parks General Manager Mike Shull Michael.A.Shull@lacity.org Phone: (213) 202-2633
more articles on the closure available here…