Runyon Canyon is Los Angeles’s best-kept secret that is being overrun. It’s a place where people can hike, bring their dogs, run their dogs off leash and see some of the most stunning views of the city, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.
But, the secret is out, and celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Cameron Diaz, Russell Crowe and many others can be seen hiking along the dirt trail with their dogs, too. The parking above has created a nightmare for locals when they are parked on both sides of Mulholland Drive illegally and stick out into the street where dogs are hit because there is no sidewalk.
Add to that the tour buses that take tourists past movie star homes (the house where one of the “Scream” movies was filmed is along Runyon Canyon).
An entrepreneur was donating money to build a basketball court at a long-abandoned tennis court about a quarter way up the trail, but locals also protested that, fearing that it would take away from the dog walking trail. This week David Ryu, the Los Angeles City Councilman who was newly elected to represent the area, issued a statement that he is stopping the project.
Call it a victory for Friends of Runyon Canyon, who are citizens concerned about the park which is being overrun by more than 35,000 hikers a week now.
Since 1986, the park was designed for a great off-leash hike for dogs.
But, recently, 28-year-old Neima Khaila, the chief executive of a streetwear company called Pink Dolphin, donated more than $250,000 to the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks to build a basketball court on the abandoned tennis court area and allow him to put his company’s logo on it.
The basketball court never got a public hearing and was being done while the park was shut down for three months while water pipes were being repaired under the trails. A lot of local outrage was vented at a public meeting and they were very upset about commercializing the rustic 136-acre park. Locals have even protested a parking structure at the bottom of the hill, which is much needed because of the complete lack of parking both at the bottom and top of the hill.
Ryu, who took over the seat from Tom LaBonge, said, “Per my request, the Department of Recreation and Parks will halt construction of the proposed basketball court at Runyon Canyon Park. The department also agreed with my recommendation to have the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners reconsider its prior approval of this project.”
He blamed his predecessors. “This project was initiated before I became the Councilmember of the Fourth District and it is clear that community concern regarding this project needs more robust consideration prior to any further action.”
Runyon Canyon Park is an important part of the Santa Monica Mountains and an iconic
landmark of hiking and walking trails with sweeping city views. This much beloved park
has about 1.8 million visits per year and 300,000 dog visits per year. It is one of the few
parks that allows off-leash dog walking and a special space in the midst of urban
Hollywood where visitors can clear their mind and focus on the view and nature.
Ryu writes, “When I took office, I pledged to restore trust in local government and one principle of that must include a public process that is not under the radar. Improvements and changes to park use must be determined with community input and advice from the many groups and individuals that love and use the park. Further, the donation for this project included the right of the donor to place their logo on the court. Many individuals have objected to this public display of a private company logo in a natural habitat and I take very seriously my constituents’ concerns about commercialization of our parks.”
He points out, “The public deserves to have a say in determining the future of the park, and it is essential that residents and park users are able to trust decisions about our public
resources like this regional park. Any new projects proposed by the City, nonprofits or
individuals must go through a public process that includes all stakeholders, including
neighborhoods councils, residents, and park users.”
“Finally, it’s critical to remember that Runyon Canyon Park is a regional park, used by
neighbors who live next door, as well as hikers and dog-lovers from the City and around
the world. We must protect Runyon’s unique and beloved qualities, its wildlife habitat, as
well as access for the millions who visit the park every year,” the councilman adds in his statement.
Nevertheless, there are people who want the basketball courts, as in this video, and the debate is still going.