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Warner Bros. wants to build a $100M aerial tramway to the Hollywood sign (latimes.com)
38 points by JumpCrisscross 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments



I try not to rant on this site but I can't help myself here so I'm sorry:

The whole point of the sign is you can see it from far away. If you look at it from the street in downtown Hollywood or whatever, you are experiencing the sign as it was meant to be experienced.

For people who... for some reason... want to go RIGHT UP to the sign... or behind it... sigh — This is an interesting compulsion which I normally would not judge. But we're now talking one hundred million dollars and untold materials and effort... to help visit... a SIGN. Literally just a sign that says, "Hollywood." Up in some otherwise beautiful nature.

To enable this dysfunctional behavior with this kind of money and technology is nuts. Go to the beach. Go for a hike. Come up with some other utterly unimaginative scheme to visit an object you saw on a screen.

Sometimes it is better NOT to apply technology to a problem. Let's NOT make this easier to accomplish. It's pointless, thoughtless behavior with no worthwhile reward.

To quote an actor named Will Ferrel dressed up as an imaginary fashion star named Mugatu, "Doesn't anyone else notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"

("I invented the piano key necktie! I invented it!!")


The Apple and Google HQs are literally just offices and laboratories where people work.

JPL and Kennedy Space Center are just hangars and launchpads where we send rockets into space.

Yellowstone is just a spot on the earth where a bunch of water comes out.

Different things appeal to different people. For some people, getting to visit the Hollywood sign up close is a big deal, especially given the importance that Hollywood films have played in influencing American and international culture. (Hollywood is huge overseas. The sign is literally what billions of people first think of when they think of America. New York and the Statute of Liberty are a close second.)

EDIT: The view of LA from the area below the sign is also pretty great. That view is likely to be just as much part of the attraction as getting up close to the sign. There is only one other easily accessible spot where you can get a view of LA like that (and currently the only spot where you don't need to hike): the Griffith Observatory.

EDIT: The other great view of the LA basin is Inspiration Point in Alta Dena (north of Pasadena), which is a 2-12 hour hike round-trip depending on your fitness level. On a clear day, you can see out to the Channel Islands to the West, and Orange County to the South, and Malibu to the North.


> There is only one other easily accessible spot where you can get a view of LA like that (and currently the only spot where you don't need to hike): the Griffith Observatory.

and if you don't mind hiking 30-45 minutes, take the trail up to the peak behind the observatory to get an even better view of both the LA basin and the san fernando valley on the other side.


Good point. If the sign is visible from as many places as possible, the view from there's gotta be pretty great too. It's their 100M let them spend it. It will probably without a doubt create a profit perhaps within 7 years too. And after that it's all profit! Go waybuilders!


There are _amazing_ things going on at those HQs, JPL, Space Center, and Yellowstone. This is a sign.


It's a sign representing the Hollywood movie industry, which almost everyone in the world loves. To them, the sign is just as amazing as the HQs, space centers, and national parks. I happen to think all of these things are amazing, which is why I include the sign in this august group.


> It's pointless, thoughtless behavior with no worthwhile reward

People enjoy visiting the sign. Just because it's pointless to you doesn't mean it is so to everyone else. These are private dollars being used to fund a development with community input. It's not my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean we must be antagonistic towards it.


You can hike right up to / behind the sign if you want to go there. The hike itself is an experience. The tram will enable the tourists who don't want to hike. I do agree with your sentiment that it will take away some of the magic from the current experience.


How can you hike to it? It's on a hill totally surrounded by a built-up environment.


No, it's not; it's on a hill in a large urban park (Griffith Park) with established hiking trails leading up.


That’s part of the fun. You have to figure that out, while driving past the signs that say “No Hollywood Sign Access”.


I mean you can just walk up to it - you don't need to hike anywhere. It's in the middle of urban environment. It's not somewhere in the wilds.


> Sometimes it is better NOT to apply technology to a problem. Let's NOT make this easier to accomplish.

I am happy that most people don't think this way.


I venture there all the time via hiking or biking as I live near-by.

1. It gives access to an area a lot of people wouldn't / couldn't adventure to due to location and/or heat during the summer. 2. It's the journey not the destination. The view along the way would be pretty cool. 3. The observatory has very limited parking.


Well-put! I can think of 100,000,000 better ways to spend $100,000,000.


In a world where Color and Juicero have collectively received more than $100m to build fancy boondoggles for spoiled rich people, a tramway to the Hollywood sign, which would be a major revenue-generating tourist attraction on its own enjoyed and used by hundreds of thousands of people each year...is not a bad way to spend $100m. It's less than was wasted on those two embarrassments alone.


Two colossal wastes of money is not a good reason for a third colossal waste of money.


We disagree on this being a waste of money. I see it is a valuable tourist destination promotion the LA area and generating taxable tourist spending in LA. It's basically just an investment in a long-term business.

In the meantime, you see wasting $100 million on drug addicts who are voluntarily homeless because they refuse to stop using drugs as a more valuable way to spend money. (See what I did there?) LA already has $2.1 billion to spend on addressing homelessness and it hasn't spent it yet. It doesn't need another $0.1 billion from WB.


I love your post and agree 1000%


Hope it stays open at night for the incredible night views.


[flagged]


> It's not that hard to comply with GDPR

I doubt the LA Times has enough subscribers and advertisers in the EU to make a full-blown compliance regime worthwhile. Remember, the issue isn't following the spirit of the law. It's keeping from falling afoul of the EU's twenty-eight national data regulators.


But if you're something like a newspaper aimed primarily at a local US audience, why would you even bother figuring out compliance. They basically just don't care if Europeans read the paper or not so it's not worth even a nominal effort to comply.



Why don't they add a button "I'm not in the EU and not EU resident"?


Because clicking on a button doesn’t magically make data collection legal.


A similar button ("I am 18+ years old") seems to work for adult sites, so why not here?


IANAL and I don’t know anything about law on this subject, but from what I am reading the US tried to forbid websites from showing porn to minors in 1995 with the Communications Decency Act, but it was struck down two years later [1]. It doesn’t seem that these buttons have any legal effect; in fact there’s no such button on the couple well-known porn websites I just tried.

[1]: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/we...


It doesn't matter if they tell you they are not in the EU. If they ARE there, GDPR applies. Clicking the button does not absolve the site of those responsibilities nor does it pass the liability to the user.


The website works just fine for Americans.


Unless you happen to not be in America at the moment...


> cost the studio an estimated $100 million, .... take visitors on a 6-minute ride more than 1 mile up

Which goes to show the absurdity at play here. There are plenty of ski lifts and gondolas that run around a mile, in MUCH more adverse conditions, with a MUCH higher elevation gain (which is really all that matters) that cost less than an order of magnitude less.


A barebones ski lift/gondola isn't what Warner Brothers is going for here.

A fancy, Hollywood-worthy gondola justifying a $25-$30 ticket is what they're going for. Large, spacious, gorgeous views, smooth ride...basically, a premium experience. Not just functional containers but highly stylized/decorated, so that they're immediately recognizable in future pictures of LA. The goal is to create an tramway that is an attraction in its own right, much like the SF streetcars.

Also, there's the matter of minimizing the environmental impact to Griffith Park and routing the tramway to minimize the impact to existing views of the sign.


Have you ever been on the Whistler Peak to Peak?

or any other modern gondola?

I'll bet my bottom dollar it's a high speed detachable using doppelmayer bits


The cost of doing construction of any type in CA is very, very high for a variety of reasons, some quite natural, others very much man-made. I'm not passing judgement here, just saying that it's expensive.


1- spend their own money 2- put the visitor center by the start of the tram instead of in the (semi-?) wild area up at the sign


RTA. They are spending their own money and there are two visitor centers: one at the start and a sign-specific visitor center already planned for the area near the sign.


Yes, they are spending their own money - Sorry I didn't make it clear I was endorsing that action. They also state they will share revenue with the city.

> there are two visitor centers

No, in re-reading the article, I didn't find any reference in the article to a second visitors center - only one near the sign. I think it would be better to only have one at the start of the tramway.

   ...tramway to transport visitors to and from the Hollywood sign, starting from a parking structure next to its Burbank lot.

  ...to a new visitors center near the sign

   ...The visitors center near the sign would educate visitors


Oh righto, I'm operating from info beyond just this article.

WB will be building a visitor center in the lot where the tramway will start, as part of the upgrades to their public facilities where they currently have studio audiences wait. They're trying to do what Universal Studios did: make their studios a tourist attraction. As part of those plans, they'll be adding exhibits and other attractions/stores/restaurants, like a minature Universal Citywalk.


Why...


RTFA:

"Residents of the hilly neighborhoods surrounding the famed Hollywood sign — the symbol of Los Angeles’ signature industry — have long blamed the attraction for worsening traffic, parking nightmares and disruptive tourists.

Now one of the movie and television business’ biggest players, Warner Bros., says it has a bold solution."


My bold solution. Move the sign.

I went to see it. Didn't do the hike, took a pic from shopping center.

I get people go to see signs, but it doesn't need to be on a hill. The Amsterdam sign is right outside a museum/park. Still swarmed with tourist.


Imagine the endless legal battles that would surround that. A thoroughly overpriced tram is orders of magnitude cheaper.


The Hollywood-Sign is there to be pretty much visible from a tons of places. Move it and it'll not be so visible or iconic. Just my 50000000000 cents. (100M/0.002.)


That's not a valid reason, again I ask why?

Investing 100 million dollars, likely displacing some home owners and businesses, inconveniencing those residence and business owners for probably years to actually construct the thing and then actually getting people to use it after spending what will probably cost more like 150-200 million dollars after budget overruns from delays just sounds like an epic waste of time and money. All of this so people can go visit an advertisement that's now missing 31% of its letters for a retail development project...


> The 95-year-old studio on Monday told city officials it would foot the bill for an aerial tramway to transport visitors to and from the Hollywood sign, starting from a parking structure next to its Burbank lot.

If they’re actually going to pay for the entire project it’s nowhere near as bad as the city building it.

I bet the root of this is a Warner Bros exec that lives at the top of one of the Hollywood hills and wants to eliminate traffic from his own house.


>I bet the root of this is a Warner Bros exec that lives at the top of one of the Hollywood hills and wants to eliminate traffic from his own house.

That I'd believe.


Because traffic in the neighborhood is nutso for residents and tourists alike.

Most of the neighborhood supports the tram project to reduce traffic, parking, and garbage issues from the hordes of tourists. Most tourists support the tram because it would be an easier, more scenic--and likely more iconic way to get to the sign than the horse-crap covered trails that are currently the only way to get up to the sign.

Warner Brothers is the primary business that would be affected by the sign, and that's because they're the ones building it, on their property.

all of this so people can go visit an advertisement that's now missing 31% of its letters for a retail development project...

It also happens to be the name of the town literally just below it...


> likely displacing some home owners and businesses

A quick look at Google Maps shows literally nothing but vegetation and hiking trails between Warner Brothers and the Hollywood sign: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hollywood+Sign/@34.1417236...


Oh even better, disrupt wildlife so people can go take pictures of a 95 year old billboard.


The aerial trams I've been on had very low footprints (a few poles in the ground per mile). I'm not convinced that this would be much more disruptive to wildlife than the existing footpaths


You have to think about all the construction equipment and crews that will flood in to erect them added with the affects of the noise pollution on local wildlife (see http://www.naturesounds.org/conservENW.html )


Griffith Park is an urban park with existing structures and roadway...it is surrounded on all sides by development...

The only truly wild wildlife in the park are the mountain lions...

The park has been the site of thousands of mass events, hundreds of filmings for TV and movies, and is used daily by thousands of hikers, runners, families, cars, tourists, etc.


They want to make money selling tickets for the tramway:

> Under the proposal, the studio would share ticketing revenue with the city to support park activities, the company said in a letter to Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Michael Shull and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso. Warner Bros. did not say how much it might charge for the tram ride.

They believe the tourists are causing a problem and that they have a solution:

> Several months ago, Gilbert said, he and a group of Warner Bros. executives drove to Hollywood Lake Park to observe the heavy traffic near the popular landmark. He saw one driver wave a selfie stick while trying to steer a red convertible, he said.

> “We know the problem is getting worse, and the city is looking for a solution,” he said. “We believe we're uniquely qualified. We've been around a long time, we’re local, and we believe we have a good answer.”


$100M buys a lot of cop hours. And the cops will probably recoup their salary by writing tickets to people attempting to visit the sign. An act that is currently illegal. No special interests would be served by that. And it would not feed our city council members’ obsession with literally printing their names on everything they can.


Ticketing the tourists would serve the special interests of the rich idiots who bought properties in the neighborhood despite knowing it was part of the route to the sign.

Additionally, the tramway is a private project that would be built and run by Warner Brothers. No council members would get their names on the tram.


They would for the simple fact of approving a lease arrangement for the city property surrounding the sign. And some increased patrolling would serve the same interests you mention, in a more direct and more immediate way.


They would for the simple fact of approving a lease arrangement for the city property surrounding the sign.

There are many laws against political corruption and everything you've suggested would fall squarely without that category. No politician is going to risk jail and the loss of their pension so they can get their name on a tram. Additionally, what you've suggested is not an allowable part of the permitting process, so WB could simply go to court and get any such naming requirement removed.

And some increased patrolling would serve the same interests you mention, in a more direct and more immediate way

Good luck getting foreign tourists to pay...The increased patrolling would just draw cops away from other locations where there's more serious crime to deter without a meaningful decrease in the amount of tourists. (They've actually tried increasing patrolling before. It didn't work then and it won't work now that selfies are even more of a thing.)


Again I quote:

"Residents of the hilly neighborhoods surrounding the famed Hollywood sign — the symbol of Los Angeles’ signature industry — have long blamed the attraction for worsening traffic, parking nightmares and disruptive tourists."

This has actually been a very heated local political issue, with residents trying to get the sign removed from Google Maps to make it harder for visitors to find the routes.


You need to understand the dynamics of LA residential politics. Neighborhoods like Beechwood Canyon are fantastically expensive and are filled with industry elites. They are also extremely inconvenient to build on and travel through, with tiny, twisty single lane streets that clog up with traffic very easily. I am not at all surprised to see that some of the residents are using their influence in the entertainment industry to get a big studio to pay to get tourists out. At least it's not taxpayer money.

One can make the very valid argument that these wealthy homeowners knew exactly what they were getting into when they bought property near one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. Having gone there once, I can understand why they get annoyed however. Parking is already difficult, not everyone has a driveway or garage due to the terrain and to make it worse, bad behavior by visitors (throwing trash on the ground, defecating/urinating in bushes [no public toilets], etc) makes a tony area look pretty crappy.


If you had read the article you would have learned that WB suggested this tram as part of an investment in their on-site tourism facilities, essentially as another attraction to bring people to the public portions of their studio lot.


Make people walk it. It's not like most people couldn't use the exercise anyway.


Horrid idea. We have friends who live near the sign, which is just an old real estate advert that originally said 'hollywoodland' to encourage development.

It's a nice hilly neighborhood and the sign is best seen from down below not up close. An aerial tramway would be better to some non residential location nearby where they can see the sign and views of LA IMO


> the sign, which is just an old real estate advert that originally said 'hollywoodland' to encourage development.

Oddly dismissive. It's iconic, and no less so because it was originally a real estate advertisement.


It's ironic that what's essentially a billboard would get turned into an icon.

It's also kind of sad that Hollywood has so little in the way of interesting landmarks that a billboard is how it's represented.


Are your friends among the ones who plant false info into maps databases to try to trick tourists?

(this is a thing that has actually happened, along with residents trying to hire private "security" to prevent people entering public roads in the area, and other tactics)


No, I think they like the sign a lot. They keep chickens, not what you'd expect right below that sign! They are always giving tourists water in the summer, like a lot of other neighbors


Chickens in the park at that sign actually does not surprise me at all ^_^

Where in that area do they live? Most of the complaints I've heard about are from Beachwood Canyon residents (right next to that access gate in particular).


Down from sign and to the left a bit in the windy roads, address not with me now




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