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BURBANK—Griffith Park, the largest urban park in the United States, has 56 miles of horse trails and supports a thriving horse community of trail users. Every day, equestrians can be found riding, from early morning into the evening, on a trail system that provides a quiet riding experience in a natural and safe environment.

With plans heating up by city businessmen and leaders to construct an aerial tram to view the Hollywood sign, equestrian advocates met virtually with Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu to present concerns.

A city agency in July commissioned a study to explore the tram line’s feasibility and possible routes. The Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department signed a $535,000 contract with Edmonton, Alberta-based Stantec Inc. to study aerial transit options in Griffith Park “to reduce congestion and ease movement of tourists throughout the 4,200-acre site.” The study was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is expected to start up again.

Meeting with Councilmember Ryu were Lynn Brown, Vice President of the L.A. Equine Advisory Council, Clare Darden, member since 1994 of the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust, and Emily Gable Luddy, current Burbank Councilperson who has served twice as the Burbank mayor.

A concern expressed by the the trio surrounded one tram plan’s requirement to use acreage currently used by the Martinez Arena— for years a well-used facility that is the only free public arena in the park. The arena is named after Abe Martinez, a Park Ranger who in 1958-60 built the arena along with other mounted Rangers on their off duty time and at their expense. Today, Martinez Arena is used for horse shows, competitions, local riders and some professional horse trainers. It is maintained by the public and was enhanced by local equestrians building, at their own expense, an announcers platform and a speaker system for equestrian horse shows. People come from other areas to rent Martinez to stage their rides, too, and L.A. Rec and Parks prepares the area for rented occasions.

It also is key for trail riding, as past the main trail leaving Martinez is the access point to all other trails in the park.

Public horse rental stables that serve families and their children are an anchor to this area. By a recent count, on a two-day weekend, over 1,000 horse rides went into the park each day.

“I am grateful to Councilman Ryu, as he has been helpful to the larger equestrian community,” said Brown, who also credits the councilmember’s assistant, Director of Special Projects Catherine Landers, for helping the equestrian efforts.

All told, the meeting left the equestrians with the sense that Martinez Arena is safe – for now.

“There still is a long way to go,” Brown said.

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