Tourists, residents tangle over access to iconic Hollywood sign

The Takeaway

The world-famous Hollywood sign has drawn tourists to its 45-foot tall letters basically since it went up.

But, for the longest time, actually finding the way to the sign was quite difficult. Most tourists were content to take a picture from below, and quite a distance away. But now, with the advent of GPS, many more tourists are finding their way to the sign itself and that has the sign’s long-time neighbors downright incensed.

Diana Knoll, a neighbor of the sign, lives in a house that her father bought in 1949, 26 years after the sign went up, and about the same time that the sign was originally refurbished — and also saw the sign changed from HOLLYWOOD LAND, to the now recognizable HOLLYWOOD.

“I understand it, I’m a tourist too. But more and more and more people are coming up here. They’re coming up here in droves,” Knoll said. “We have cars lined up all down the street. It’s really causing a lot of problems, especially the smoking.”

Knoll said she regularly walks out of her house to see cars lined up in front of her yard, led to that spot, near the sign, by GPS.

“It’s just too much for a residential neighborhood,” she said.

Sarajane Schwartz, president of the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association, said the number of tourists coming up to the sign, and the gridlocking of the streets that it causes, has become unmanageable.

“It is dangerous. This is all unsupervised. It’s like the Wild West,” she said.

City Councilman Tom LaBonge isn’t exactly sympathetic. While their properties are certainly private, the Hollywood sign is in a public space, and it’s one of the most iconic signs in the world.

“I’m sure in their real estate flyers, when they sell their homes, they’ll say ‘View of Hollywood sign,’ ” he said.

The World Listener Survey 2024

We’d love to hear your thoughts on The World. Please take our 5-min. survey.