Los Angeles residents woke up to a modified Hollywood sign on Sunday morning. The famed landmark, which rests on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, now reads “Hollyweed.” The sign was visibly changed and captured on cameras as of Sunday morning, and this is not the first time the sign has been targeted in a possible prank or act of vandalism.
Danny Finegood, an art student, was made famous by changing the sign to “Hollyweed” on January 1, 1976, in celebration of the state’s then-more relaxed marijuana laws taking effect. (He also once changed the sign to read “Ollywood” in 1987 in protest of Col. Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair, as well as making the sign read “Oil War” in 1990 to protest the first Gulf War_. California voters recently approved recreational marijuana use in a ballot initiative, joining six other states and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug’s non-medical use.
As for the legality of such a move, it would most likely be deemed vandalism and/or trespassing in accordance with the California Penal Code. The Hollywood Sign Trust – the organization tasked physically maintaining, repairing and securing the Hollywood Sign – works with Los Angeles city officials, police and fire authorities, park rangers, and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that no one (or almost no one) alters the sign. According to the non-profit organization’s website:
"Over the years, the Sign nearly disappeared forever due to the combined efforts of vandals, pranksters, and neglect. Footpaths up the slope became jagged, unsightly erosion sites that ate away at the side of Mt. Lee. Nearby residents in the Hollywoodland community had to deal with unwanted foot traffic through their properties, sometimes by dangerously intoxicated groups of people. Joke additions to the Sign or changes to the letters, which might seem harmless enough, created hazardous work for city workers who had to restore the Sign back to normal."