David Bohnett Speeches

Ceremony for the Re-Lighting of the Historic Broadway Hollywood Neon Sign

This magnificent light we're turning on today is more than just a sign; it is a symbol. The re-lighting of the Broadway Hollywood sign heralds the renewal of Hollywood that we have all long anticipated and have now witnessed over the past few years; and we are demonstrating that the public sector and the private sector can and must work together to make and keep Los Angeles the amazing and vibrant city that it is.

I'm hoping that the re-lighting on the Broadway Hollywood sign will serve as an example and inspiration to others who want to improve the quality of life in our beloved city.

I'd like to express my gratitude to our partners in this historic venture: Kim Noga of the Museum of Neon Art, and the Lumens project which first envisioned the inventive idea of relighting the sky; the CRA that joined me in funding this historic sign; and my new friends at the Kor Group, who are going to make the building itself just as beautiful and bright as the sign on top of it.

I've driven by the Broadway Hollywood sign for over 30 years, dreaming that one day it would glow again. I can recall, and you may as well, episodes of the “I Love Lucy” show with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, where sign was a prominent feature in the background view out their hotel room suite during Lucy and Ricky's famous trip to Hollywood. As well, old newsreels of Hollywood usually included a scene north up Vine Street and a view of this famous landmark.

Unfortunately, many years ago, the sign went dark, and, so did our beloved Hollywood.

Community activists refer to something called the “broken window” theory to explain how a neighborhood falls into despair and decay. This thesis suggests that the following sequence of events can be expected in deteriorating neighborhoods:

  • Evidence of decay (accumulated trash, broken windows, deteriorated building exteriors) remain in the neighborhood for a reasonably long period of time.
  • People who live and work in the area feel more vulnerable and begin to withdraw. They become less willing to intervene to maintain public order or to address physical signs of deterioration.
  • Sensing this decline, teens and other possible offenders become bolder and intensify their harassment and vandalism. Residents become yet more fearful and withdraw further from community involvement and upkeep. This atmosphere then attracts offenders from outside the area, who sense that it has become a vulnerable and less risky site for crime.

For far too long, the Broadway Hollywood sign was a 'broken window', a metaphor for neighborhood neglect and decay. The re-lighting of this sign; and the investment in new housing, commercial, and retail development, signal the reversal of the broken window environment, and a renewal of Hollywood's fortunes.

Everyone has the opportunity to participate in community improvement and philanthropy — whether it's re-lighting an historic neon sign, organizing a volunteer trash-clean up project, removing graffiti, or supporting a neighborhood watch program.

How often we've all heard and said, let 'someone else' worry about cleaning up the neighborhood; and that it's 'someone else's responsibility to report the pothole in the street and the graffiti on the stop sign, and it's someone else's responsibility to repair the broken window.

I'm here to tell you that there are great satisfaction and fulfillment in being that 'someone else' who was responsible for seeing that this glorious sign was at long last repaired and re-illuminated as a proud beacon for Hollywood.

In the future, as you drive by and see this sign, please take a moment to reflect on how you might evolve from a 'someone else' to 'someone who cares.' What broken window do you want to fix today?

Yes, there is much work to do, but there is also great joy in seeing a vision come to life.

Thank you very much.