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Hollywood sign sightseers frustrate upscale residents
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A flier calling for the Hollywood sign to be torn down is a joke, but residents of hillside neighborhoods below the landmark said the frustration they feel over growing crowds of sightseers is real.

Signs have gone up in the upscale areas of Beachwood Canyon and Hollywoodland, some reading "Warning — Tourist-Free Zone" and "Tourists Go Away," the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Residents say they are bothered by the traffic but most concerned about safety issues because the curving, narrow roads in the area were not designed for so many vehicles and pedestrians.

"We live in the middle of an area that is very attractive to people all over the globe," said Fran Reichenbach, president of the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association. "We knew that when we moved here, but in the last few years it's really gotten out of hand."

Just a few years ago there were only a few operators offering Hollywood sign viewing tours. Now, the newspaper says, there are more than 40 companies running buses and vans in and out of the canyon.

And tourists are increasingly using GPS devices on their cars and phones to map out the best views and routes through the neighborhoods.

Over the summer, the city tested the use of road checkpoints where tourists were warned of parking restrictions in the area and directed to a vista point above the Hollywood Reservoir where they could see the sign.

In 2011, the city began weighing tour buses as they entered Hollywoodland to strictly enforce a 6,000-pound vehicle limit on the small streets.

At a forum two years ago, residents proposed several ideas for easing traffic, including erecting gates across some streets and even building an aerial tram connecting the nearby Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park to a ridge next to the Hollywood sign. Neither of those ideas panned out, the Times said.

Now, residents are demanding that the city keep roads clear for emergency vehicles. They're also calling for permit parking restrictions to prevent tourists from stopping on residential streets.

Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the area, believes the problems would eased if the tour company vehicles would park at Griffith Observatory to view the sign.

"I absolutely do support people visiting here from around the world," LaBonge told the newspaper. "But the impact on the neighborhood has been great."