156 South Reeves: Another Case Study in Neglect and Hazard

Beverly Hills landlord Stephen Copen’s properties are often an object lesson to fellow landlords: When we neglect to repair our residential rental property the inevitable result will be deterioration, decay, and ultimately, a hazard we visit upon our community. That’s the lesson we can all take from 156 South Reeves today. Just take a look at that overhead garage door that fronts on Charleville. It has deteriorated so significantly that it now sags and menaces passersby with exposed, rusty nails. How did it come to this?

Landlord Stephen Copen can’t say he wasn’t warned about his property at 156 Reeves. One year ago we reported a variety of code violations that the city then enforced. The city received compliance on a number of issues which included:

  • Deteriorating or peeling paint BHMC § 5–7–4(b)
  • Trees and shrubbery growing uncontrolled without proper pruning BHMC § 5–7–4(d)(4)
    Lumber, junk, trash, debris, or salvage materials maintained upon premises BHMC § 5–7–4(h)
  • Abandoned, discarded, or unused furniture, stoves, sinks, toilets, cabinets, or other household fixtures BHMC § 5–7–4(i)
  • Accumulation of dirt, litter, or debris in vestibules, doorways on the premises, or adjoining walkways. BHMC § 5–7–4(m)

In that complaint we called out problems with exterior maintenance of the kind that appears to violate Municipal Code section 5–7–4(o): “walls, fences, driveways, or walkways which are cracked, broken, defective, deteriorated, in disrepair, or defaced.” Beyond the flaking paint it was clear that the garage doors at 156 Reeves were deteriorating too. Here is the view from the alley one year ago.

156 Reeves Garage October 2018

But Copen took no action on the garages. Instead he simply props some of them open and they hang and sag. That was the case with the garage that fronts on Charleville: it had hung open so long the old and dried supports simply gave way because this landlord has not properly maintained his property.

The Charleville garage was a problem even last March. So we followed up with an amended code complaint to specifically call-out the deteriorating garage door (as the image at the top shows). Still no action was taken.

Fast forward seven months and now the integrity of the Charleville garage door is so compromised that it could fall on a tenant at any time.

156 Reeves garage October 2019 side view

156 Reeves garage October 2019Worse, because there is no setback from the property line, the garage opens onto the sidewalk and this now-cracked support brace could snag someone just passing by. Neglect has led to public safety hazard. Just get a look at those rusty nails. Nasty!

Now Copen’s resident property manager lives just across the street. Copen himself visits his properties now and again. Should it really take a code complaint to get this landlord to maintain his property?

156 S Reeves garage March and October 2019
What a difference a few months makes when deterioration is neglected to save a few cents. Now it’s a hazard and public safety issue. Shame on Copen for treating my neighborhood — and his tenants — this way.

Update: Landlord Stephen Copen fixed the problem in exactly the way I would expect: not by repairing the garage door but by having a handyman hack off the part of the support bracket that hanged down. Of course there are still exposed screws visible!

156 Reeves garage hack

156 Reeves garage door hack detail

Nice job!