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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Residents Seek to Close Off Popular Hollywood Road

Residents hope gating off their neighborhood will restore peace to their paradise in the hills.

High atop the Los Angeles skyline, residents of one Hollywood Hills community want to gate off their neighborhood to vehicle traffic.  Living in the Hills, boasting expansive views of L.A., residents hope for privacy and safety.  But they're not getting it.

"I've heard people have sex because they park under my window here.  People have sex in their cars, I hear people checking their voicemail on the phone.  It's just constant.  You have the giggly girl that giggles for like 3 hours and it’s like 'shut up,'" said Laini Reeves, one Solar Drive resident.

Night after night, residents say partiers, gangs, prostitutes and drug dealers frequent the street and one of its abandoned homes. They make noise and leave a mess for residents like Laini Reeves to clean up.

"We come out and there's condoms on the floor, syringes, there's paraphernalia of alcohol consumption, food," Reeves said. "It's disgusting."

Residents, fearing for their safety, want to put up a gate.  And while foot traffic will still be permitted into Runyon Canyon, hikers are upset.

"You could have a million people that are loyal hikers that just want to come up here and exercise and there's one person who comes up here and does something bad.  It ruins it for everybody," said hiker Ryan Totka.

Hiker Ian Skalarsky, a native New Yorker, agrees.  "Closing it up for everybody is a bad idea.  People come up here and need an access point to get out sometimes." 

Skalarsky proposes another option besides the 24-hour gate.  "Maybe a gate with [operating] hours would be a better solution," Skalarsky said.

But residents just dontt care.  They are fed up.

"If any of those hikers came here from 10 [at night] to 6 in the morning, they would understand itis not about privacy.  It's about peace of mind and safety," explained Reeves.

Susan Mullins, president of the Upper Nichols Canyon Neighborhood Association, said the gate is an effort to keep the partying out.  And it's not just the noise they have a problem with; Mullins and other neighbors worry about the fire danger caused by cigarettes in this dry canyon brush.

Reeves agreed with Mullins.  "They're smoking pot up here.  As you can see, we are in a high fire zone.  That for us is a major thing."

In addition to the nightly visitors, residents say 2450 Solar Drive, nicknamed the Runyon Canyon clubhouse by intruders, is an empty mansion that attracts gangs and partiers to break in.  It is on the market now for $15 million.  While property managers refused to talk to ATVN on camera, one property manager did say through a second floor window, "The more press we get, the more we get people trying to break in here."

Getting a gate for Solar Drive is not easy.  It could take up to several months with formal approvals by the City Council and LAPD.  After those approvals, residents then have to go through the Department of Public Works to obtain the necessary permits to allow them to install the gate, according to Edmond Yew with the L.A. Board of Engineers.  Lastly, the residents have six months to install the gate or the approvals and motion become void.

Even then, the gate will only be there for 18 months.  But residents are relieved.

"I'm a big believer in the squeaky wheel gets the oil," said Reeves.


Gating of public streets with privileged access for private residents is illegal under California law. See Citizens Against Gated Enclaves v. Whitley Heights Civic Association, 1994

I understand that this is a piece of student journalism, but the writer needs to research her subject more broadly before taking her article to press.

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