Tourist trap: New gate on popular Hollywood Sign trail

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A popular hillside trail that offers one of the best views of the Hollywood Sign is shutting down tomorrow for five weeks. City crews are installing a new gate at the Hollyridge Trailhead in an effort to keep people out at night. The trail at the top of Beachwood Drive is ground zero in the debate between residents and city officials over access to Hollywood Sign vistas. Locals say the swarms of tourists that invade their neighborhoods for a gander at the sign are eroding their quality of life and creating safety hazards. But the iconic sign is an important tourist draw, and city officials are loathe to seal off neighborhoods and impose restrictions on visitors. Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the area, says the new Hollyridge Trail gate is a good compromise.


Glenn Champ is one of four Republican candidates trying to win his party’s endorsement to face Gov. Jerry Brown in November. He’s also a registered sex offender. Champ – who calls himself a Christian soldier – has a lengthy rap sheet that includes a 1993 conviction for assault with intent to commit rape. Champ was sentenced to 12 years in prison on that charge. He’s also pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter after hitting and killing a man with his car, and he once accepted a plea deal on a charge of soliciting a prostitute. Champ says he’s a changed man after undergoing a Christian conversion.

Uninsured Californians have just one week to beat the March 31st deadline to sign up for health coverage or face a possible tax penalty. That’s led to a last-minute jump in the number of people checking out their coverage options – and long wait times to speak to a Covered California representative on the phone. And it’s only expected to get busier in the coming days. Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee is urging people who can’t get through on the phone to use the health exchange’s web site, or to contact certified local representatives who can answer questions for potential enrollees. More than a million people have signed up for coverage in California.

decathlonPerennial contender El Camino Real Charter High School has done it again: winning top honors at the California Academic Decathlon this weekend in Sacramento. L.A.’s Granada Hills Charter High came in second. Both schools will go on to the national championship next month in Honolulu. El Camino was dominant in beating out 64 other schools for the title. The competition included questions on math, science, economics, art and literature.

fireringGenerations of Southern Californians have gathered around beach fire pits in the evenings to stay warm while enjoying the sand and surf. But starting today, the Southern California Air Quality Management District will enforce new air pollution rules at many fire pits in L.A. and Orange counties. The AQMD says wood burning pits must be more than 700 feet away from beach homes. The agency says the change protects residents from air pollution without completely banning wood burning at the beach. Newport Beach earlier this year became the first local town to ban wood burning entirely. Newport will still have fire pits, but they will be fueled by charcoal or natural gas.