Activists to Spell Out Plans for Hollywood Sign

A conservation group plans to cover the Hollywood sign with a banner

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Activists plan to spell out plans for land near the Hollywood sign.

    Trust For Public Lands, a nature conservation group, said it has reached a deal that would protect a huge swath of land above the  Hollywood sign from being developed into luxury homes. The group's president, Will Rogers, said Monday that the Trust secured an option to buy the rugged 138-acre parcel for about $12 million from Chicago-based Fox River Financial Resources.

    As part of its initiative to save land near the sign from development, Trust for Public Lands wants to cover the sign with a shroud that reads, "Save the Peak." The group also has a website to accept donations.

    The big drape was expected to drop Thursday. Now that's been moved to this weekend. It's best just to stay home and keep an eye on it with one of these webcams.

    To the Letter

    [LA] To the Letter
    Each of the Hollywood sign's letters got a makeover completed in December 2005.

    The LAPD sent out a community alert to Hollywood residents -- possibly because it might alarm people to find one of LA's most recognized 450-foot-long landmark wrapped in a giant blanket.

    According to the Times, the LAPD issued the e-mail so the department does "not receive phone calls from worried citizens.”

    Fox River had put the land on the market two years ago for some $22 million. The Trust for Public Lands has already raised about $6 million. Rogers said he's confident it can raise the rest before the option expires in mid-April.

    If not, it goes back on the market.

    "There's always a concern when you have a deadline," Rogers said. "I'm optimistic, but there's always that chance."

    Just in case things fall through, you might want to take that hike now.

    HOLLYWOOD History

    Never mind that film production in the Hollywood neighborhood dropped off years ago. It's still a powerful symbol. Just ask the President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, LeRon Gubler.

    "What I do get are calls from people who say we need to trim trees that are blocking the view," says Gubler.

    So it came as a surprise to everyone recently when a developer announced plans to build some very large homes up there, behind and just to the west of the sign.

    "They want to build six or seven huge, brilliant white mansions," said Joseph Edmiston, whose Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy guards the Hollywood Hills.

    Curbed has a mock-up of what that would look like.

    Edmiston figures that most people probably assumed these 138 acres were part of Griffith Park, which occupies most of the ridge line to the north, east and south. But looks can be deceiving.

    Back in 1940, billionaire Howard Hughes bought the land to build a house for his girlfriend, Ginger Rogers. The relationship ended, though, and the land has remained unspoiled and pristine for 70 years.

    The Hughes estate sold it to investors in 2002 and now development plans have come to light. But, a consortium of public and private organizations, held together by L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, have resolved to keep the ridge the way it is now.

    "We’re not gonna allow this to happen," says Edmiston. "We’re gonna buy that land."

    But Hollywood Hills land isn't cheap. And the City is far from flush with cash these days.  So, LaBonge and company are asking for donations.

    "Someone could give a dollar, online, every which way - to make sure that mountain never has anything on it," says LaBonge.