THIS IS WHAT I KNOW--Hiking Runyon Canyon is one of LA’s most popular outdoor workouts – in a city where Angelenos drive to Flywheel or hot yoga. Getting close enough to the Hollywood Sign for that vacation Instagram post is on the to-do lists of many tourists.
There were more than a few “unhappy campers” when the city banned pedestrians from accessing the Beachwood Canyon gate earlier this year, a busy route for both hikers and tourists.
Now, Friends of Griffith Park, the Oaks Homeowners Association (Los Feliz), and the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust are attempting to stop a previous court order. (A bit of backstory – Griffith J. Griffith gifted the city with Griffith Park on Christmas Day 1896 – and his heirs make up the trust.)
Back in March of 2015, Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables filed a lawsuit against the city for control over the Beachwood Drive trailhead, the primary public access into Griffith Park. The trailhead had also operated as the ranch’s driveway since 1940 when an easement agreement was signed, guaranteeing the ranch’s use in perpetuity for access to its two-acre parcel within Griffith Park. This is the sole point of access from public roads.
Sunset Ranch complained that the thousands of hikers each year clogged the access road leading to its horseback riding facility – blocking business and endangering pedestrians.
The three groups filing the current lawsuit state that the city has alternative means of adhering to the court order that resulted from the 2015 suit that could still protect Sunset Ranch’s interests without blocking access to Beachwood Drive.
Earlier this year, Sunset Ranch won an injunction against the City when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Feffer ruled that the three groups have no legal interest in the property in discussion but the groups could file a separate lawsuit. The current suit charges that the settlement was “outright unlawful.” The groups charge that the denial of access is tantamount to an illegal gift to a private company.
I’ll keep you posted.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)