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This story first appeared in the Jan. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Tensions around the Hollywood sign have continued to rise since last week, when THR published an investigation into the organized efforts of wealthy nearby homeowners to flush out the multiplying, freshly GPS-enabled tourists. Anger has been fomenting over thousands of new visitors flocking to a recently reopened trailhead gate.
While long-term plans (a visitor’s center, a tram) have eluded officials, Sheila Irani, a candidate to replace local city councilman Tom LaBonge in March’s election, has come forward to THR with what she claims is a quick-fix solution: Allow commercial bidders to relight the sign several times a year (when the sign was first built, it was outlined in bulbs), and put the revenues from the sponsorship fee toward increased security.
“When I was the director of special projects for LaBonge, we were approached by Swarovski to place crystals running down the side and light it,” she says. “Moet & Chandon was another prospect. I’ve heard $300,000 to $500,000 offers and even higher. If we’re going to accept that the sign’s our Statue of Liberty, we need to monetize it better and stop victimizing the neighbors around it.”
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