A Hollywood Ending for Cahuenga Peak

March 29, 2012

Minus the red carpet, a handful of celebrities gathered last week on a rocky outcropping behind the Hollywood Sign. They weren't in formal wear and they weren't filming a movie. They were celebrating the dedication of Cahuenga Peak—in jeans and hiking boots.

Actor Bill Pullman and City Councilman Tom LaBonge joined The Trust for Public Land in honoring philanthropist Aileen Getty, Hugh Hefner, and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation for their generous support in the fight to save the peak.

Pullman, a friend of The Trust for Public Land, beamed as he talked about the way his neighborhood came together in support of the peak.

"The global and local community came together like you wouldn't believe. We had bake sales; we printed out flyers. Everyone in the neighborhood came together," said a delighted Pullman.

With LaBonge as emcee, Trust for Public Land staff Carolyn Ramsay and Sam Hodder unveiled the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail and the Hugh Hefner Overlook. Both provide the public new access to Cahuenga Peak.

After cutting the ribbon, Getty led guests on an inaugural hike. Snaking through 138 acres of chaparral-covered land, the trail boasts 360-degree views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

"We did it," exclaimed LaBonge as he walked. "We really did it."

Touching an Icon

Prior to the ceremony, staff, neighborhood supporters, media, and winners of the L.A. Inc. "Meet the Sign" sweepstakes, reveled in the rare chance to get up-close-and-personal with the Hollywood Sign. An international symbol of fame and fortune, the sign played the lead role in the campaign to save the peak.

"The Hollywood sign seems to represent luck to people," said Pullman. "It's like if you can get close enough, it will rub off on you."

Get close they did. After a steep and rocky descent to the base of the sign, the lucky group snapped photos and stared in awe of the larger-than-life letters. A few guests posed beside the "No Trespassing" sign, uploading the proof straight to Facebook.

Members of the media were equally thrilled. A local reporter popped out from behind a giant "L" to introduce his segment. An Australian network broadcasted live from the scene, claiming the sign was made of Aussie metal.

Even neighbors were taken aback at the view. "I live here and I've never touched the Hollywood Sign," said Kiran Keeney. "It's emblematic of the city and of Cahuenga Peak."

Mission Accomplished

Getty, LaBonge, and the ensemble of donors and guests returned from the hike, breathing hard and smiling. Some remarked how far they felt from the city. Others talked about the wildlife that would thrive now that the area was safe from swimming pools, fences, and Saltillo tiles.

"I feel sorry for a handful of wealthy families who will have to find some place else to live," said Barry Sanders of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation, with a smile. "Wherever that place is, it won't be Cahuenga Peak."