Hollywood fights LA in battle over famous sign

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Who owns the Hollywood sign? Is it the City of Los Angeles, which has touted the famous hillside letters as its landmark for decades, or is it that more nebulous concept known as Hollywood, at once the name of a neighbourhood and the symbol of an industry that stretches across southern California and beyond?

Who owns the Hollywood sign? Is it the City of Los Angeles, which has touted the famous hillside letters as its landmark for decades, or is it that more nebulous concept known as Hollywood, at once the name of a neighbourhood and the symbol of an industry that stretches across southern California and beyond?

Until now it hasn't mattered, but that was before Hollywood – the neighbourhood, that is – made plans to secede from Los Angeles and establish itself as an independent city. This week, a state commission analysing the viability of city status recommended that the sign become part of the new municipality. After all, what would Hollywood be without the sign?

That finding infuriated one Los Angeles councillor who dug through old property recordsto prove that the sign is legally obliged to remain in Los Angeles in perpetuity. The Hollywood sign sits in Griffith Park, a large area of public land that was bequeathed to Los Angeles by Colonel Griffith J Griffith. The only snag in the argument is that the sign is not technically in Griffith Park at all, but sits on its own slice of secessionist territory once belonging to a property company.

Indeed, the 50ft sign once read "Hollywoodland" and was an advertisement for a 1920s housing development. The last four letters subsequently fell off.

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