As the sun sets in Beachwood Canyon, Patti Peck, owner of the Beachwood Cafe, explains how Beachwood’s small business owners have gotten caught up in the ongoing battle over the Hollywood Sign.
Patti starts off the interview by repeating a familiar refrain in Beachwood Canyon—that over the past six years, GPS technology has dramatically increased the number tourists traveling through the neighborhood to visit the Hollywood Sign. Sympathizing with the residents, Patti also talks about how this traffic has created a variety of problems for her business.
“There’s no infrastructure here to support the amount of tourism,” Patti says. “So we’ve become the de facto tourist center.”
Unfortunately for Patti, being the de facto tourist center has not helped her business. Patti says that, instead of buying coffee or food, tourists “mostly just create a long line to use the bathroom”—which is unattractive to regular customers and has caused her plumbing bill to double.
However even with these problems, Patti does not see eye to eye with some of the neighborhood’s most ardently anti access residents.
“The residents of Beachwood Canyon are at odds with the businesses because they want to implement permit parking,” Patti says, “and we, the businesses, feel that this is an imposition that will cost us our livelihood, that it will effectively strangle our business.”
A few years ago, residents in upper Beachwood who live closest to the Hollywood Sign asked the city to implement permit parking—officially called Preferential Parking Districts—to help alleviate Hollywood Sign tourist traffic. Many in the neighborhood refer to these districts as "PPDs" or "preferred parking districts".
Since then, these parking districts have slowly crept further down the hill towards Beachwood Canyon’s historic commercial village. Many of the small business owners in the village, while supportive of the PPDs up the hill, say that PPDs in the village would harm their businesses by preventing regular patrons from parking nearby.
“So we can’t afford to have that, and why should we?” Patti says. “This is public streets. This is a public park, and our tax dollars pay for these streets.”
Despite the danger to the village’s small businesses, Patti says that the City Council is bending to the will of Beachwood Canyon’s most ardently anti access residents. These residents—some of whom The Millennial Project has interviewed in recent videos—are extremely vocal in both local media and local politics, and they are now demanding that the parking districts be expanded into the canyon’s village in order to further control tourist traffic.
“City Council is determined to do something to fix the squeaky wheel,” Patti Says. “My personal difference as a business owner than with the residents is that I want a long-term solution…I don’t want a Band Aid, and so I feel like the parking permits is just going to be a Band Aid, and it’s just going to push [the traffic] further down the hill.”
Patti is represented by Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu.
According to Patti, these anti access residents have also created fissures in the once tight knit Beachwood Canyon community.
“They’re like very vehement and it’s like this crazy vitriol that happens” Patty Says. “It’s gotten people against each other and I hate that because we are all just trying to live here and do business here.”
“This is a little community like Mayberry… and Mayberry’s being tore apart by a war over parking? That’s what we’re going to fight about?” she goes on to say in disbelief.
In talking about solutions for the larger Hollywood Sign issue, Patti says she wants to see an official visitor’s center built in a location that is more suited for high volumes of tourist traffic.
“You go there, you leave your car there, you buy a pass to go into the park, you’re shuttled into the park. You have infrastructure there, you have bathrooms, you have trashcans, you have souvenirs… You have all the things set up that people need when they travel.”
However, Patti does not believe in building this visitors center in order to limit access to the sign through Beachwood Canyon. Instead, she sees the visitors center as an additional access option that will offer everyday tourists a more convenient place to go, fund itself by charging for shuttle tickets, and preserve local access to the Hollywood Sign for those who still wish to visit Beachwood Canyon.
“I’m a hippie”, she says. “I want access for the people… We need more parks for the people. We live in a big…crowded city. It’s great to have these parks where you can go out in the nature… So I’m not for limiting any sort of access, and my attitude is that there’s better ways to handle it than to shut it down.”
Shot by Jack Mayer
Produced and Edited by Andrew Murphy Davis