Stephen Copen Lays Down the Law: “Get off My Lawn!”

Let it be known that Beverly Hills landlord Stephen Copen threatened to call the cops on ‘Little Guy,’ an unprepossessing Shepherd-Chihuhua senior who has a penchant for sniffing lawns up and down Reeves Drive. His offense late on Saturday night: trespassing on Copen’s lawn at #152. Little Guy was guilty. And this wasn’t his first offense. So Copen’s phone came out and Little Guy and I had to make a getaway. But not before a frank exchange of views!

His was a simple crime of opportunity: the hour was late, the night was dark and cold, and nobody stirred. Little Guy could lurk in the shadow of a hedge perhaps to case the joint for some later caper. But just then the good doctor appeared out of nowhere. Like a B-movie nightwatchman who blunders into a heist, Copen did a Hollywood-style double-take at the guy holding the leash. Little Guy was busted!

Penal code Title 14 subsection §602(M) says that any person “entering and occupying real property or structures of any kind without the consent of the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession” is guilty of misdemeanor trespass. I couldn’t put Little Guy in that kind of legal jeopardy.

You see, Little Guy already has a record. He did hard time at the Carson animal shelter a few years ago and we can’t afford to see him back in the slammer. Copen is just the kind of guy who would call the dog-catcher on this little scofflaw.

But Copen’s beef isn’t with Little Guy. He’s angry that I have called him out by name for mistreating tenants. Just last year, for example, I noted that Copen was arrested for unlawfully and forcefully evicting one of his tenants. I was also a bit cheeky to note that SoCal gas once posted a notice to his tenants at this very property that advised them how to chip-in to keep the heat and hot water going.

Then there are the many code enforcement complaints I’ve filed about his various rental properties. If Copen won’t maintain his own properties then the city should remind him. After all that’s an obligation of the landlord to his tenants and to the larger community. How ironic, then, to see Copen late Saturday night carrying a big ladder. Was he undertaking some DIY property maintenance? It warms the heart!

I had to move Little Guy on. But neither Copen nor I could let the moment pass without a frank exchange. “You’re a bad man,” Copen told me as I tugged at Little Guy’s leash. I pointed to his apartment house cater-corner on Charleville and told him to clean-up his property.

I didn’t have to remind him that his tenant at 9430 Charleville has been maintaining a nuisance there for all of 2020. Copen knows all about it because he collects $3,000 monthly from that guy for half of a divided two-bedroom apartment. His neighbors live with trash arrayed around the premises and his occasional late-night ranting-and-raving. It has provoked a lively back-and-forth on Nextdoor.

Regardless, Copen then said that I am the problem in this community. I told him again to clean up his mess and I added some profanity for emphasis. Copen then threatened to call the cops on me for my F-bomb. (I haven’t found that offense mentioned in the Penal Code, however.)

After that exchange I have to tell our little scofflaw that from now on it’s ‘straight time’ for him. No more sniffing around the lawn as Copen will undoubtedly keep his eye peeled for Little Guy’s next 602(M) infraction.

In the meantime have a look at this lively Nextdoor conversation about 9430 Charleville. Click through for an archived image of the conversation.

9428 Charleville on Nextdoor