Hands Off Hollywood Sign

 While stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 110 northbound freeway, you look to your right and see the concrete jungle of downtown Los Angeles. Scanning over to the left, you view historic Griffith Observatory. And a few more inches to the left, where you expect to see the Hollywood sign, you are greeted by another kind of sign.

On February 12, the familiar letters were temporarily covered with another sign reading "Save the Peak." Up for only five days, the sign was an effort led by San Francisco-based nonprofit group, The Trust for Public Land, to raise awareness about corporate development around the Hollywood sign.

Recently the corporate owners of the prized area Mount Lee in Griffith Park have been discussing possible plans to build luxury homes on the land surrounding the Hollywood sign. They are willing to concede the land to The Trust for Public Land if the nonprofit group comes up with the $11.7 million purchase price.

Every year millions of people around the world travel to Los Angeles and the sign is a large part of that draw. Not only does the famed sign hold significant cultural references, it is also a part of Los Angeles' history.

The sign was originally constructed in 1932 as an advertisement. It was left up and eventually inspired people to form the Hollywood Sign Trust, an organization that makes sure the sign endures.

If the needed $11.7 million dollars isn't raised by April of this year, and the sign is potentially removed to help clear the land, then what will Los Angeles have that's so universally recognizable? The city will be losing a widely known symbol.

If the money needed to buy the property is raised, the community and the local park ecosystem will benefit from the land being added onto Griffith Park.

According to the New York Times, Councilman Tom Labonge said, "This is, for us, like the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. People land at LAX and they want to see the Hollywood sign. If that mountain that surrounds it were filled with mansions, it would ruin the view and ruin the free spirit of Los Angeles."

So far, $7 million has been scraped together, mostly from donations by optimistic residents.

Los Angeles needs the sign as much as the sign needs the financial support of its onlookers. It is in need of help now, and with team effort the money can be raised.