Los Angeles may block access from Beachwood Drive to a popular trail near the Hollywood Sign, forcing hikers to reach the path from elsewhere in Griffith Park.
Residents Sarajane Schwartz and Ben Sheffner told the Los Angeles Times that at a court hearing Monday, a city attorney talked about redirecting hikers to Canyon Drive in the Bronson Canyon area if they want to reach Hollyridge Trail.
The two residents are on opposing sides of the battle over access to the Griffith Park trails. Their account was echoed by Michael Angel, an attorney representing a horseback riding facility involved in the case. City officials did not immediately confirm their accounts.
Beachwood Canyon residents have been divided over whether their street should be a gateway to Griffith Park. Although some have pushed to shut down public access to the trails from Beachwood Drive, complaining of traffic and safety risks, others have argued that the path should be easily accessible to hikers and tourists wanting to get a closer look at the famous sign, The Times reported.
The city attorney’s office referred questions about trail access to the parks department. Spokeswoman Rose Watson told The Times that the Hollyridge Trail would not be closed, but she did not address whether pedestrian access would be blocked at Beachwood Drive. Once the department receives the court order, Watson said, “we will review (it) and make public our next steps.”
Monday’s court battle was the result of a legal battle over access to the Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables on Beachwood Drive, which provides horseback rides in Griffith Park.
The ranch has long had a legal agreement allowing people to come and go through a 20-foot-wide strip of land. In their lawsuit, the ranch owners complained that the city began funneling hikers onto its “exclusive easement road” two years ago by advertising that pedestrians could safely access the area using a new gate, The Times reported.
In February, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found that that hikers could not be barred from using the easement area. However, she also concluded that the city had channeled thousands of pedestrians toward the ranch every month, blocking access to the property.
The judge said L.A. could allow hikers to access Hollyridge Trail as close as possible to either the beginning of the Sunset Ranch easement — near the gate at the end of Beachwood Drive — or another, currently blocked, access point that was previously used.
—City News Service
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