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!

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Making the Means and Methods Plan Better: Our Recommendations

The city requires a means & method plan when construction will affect other tenants in a multifamily property. The plan discloses the nature of the work, identifies likely impacts, and proposes measures to mitigate impacts. But we hear from tenants that the means & method process is not protecting them. The process needs improvement and here is what we recommend to make it work better for tenants.

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The Winter of Our (Pandemic) Discontent

Seems like turnover in Beverly Hills residential rental housing is on the increase. Or maybe it’s just my neighborhood. After a spring and summer put on hold by the lockdown, I began to see ‘no parking’ signs pop up through the fall. Sometimes signs stacked one upon another. Moving vans occasionally doubled-up at the curb and always they seemed to haul-away furnishings but never deliver them. Is there an exodus underway?

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Solid Waste Rate Increase: An Open Letter to City Council

Dear Mayor Friedman and members of the city council: Before you is a recommendation to increase solid-waste rates over five years. A new solid waste collection contract is forcing the city’s hand and we fully expect you to approve the proposed rates. However it should be noted that the rates, if approved, will force multifamily customers to shoulder even more of the burden of covering the city’s residential solid waste collection cost. Here are some observations.

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Measure RP: Thoughts on the City’s ‘Tax Payer Protection Act’

Beverly Hills city council has placed on the November ballot a measure to conditionally add three-quarters of one percent to the sales tax IF Los Angeles County voters at some point in the future approve any increase. Dubbed by city council as the ‘Beverly Hills Tax Payer Protection Act,’ Measure RP would put our city a step ahead of the county by grabbing the resulting revenue. But the measure raises some questions about equity. In this time of unprecedented stress on county health and homelessness services, is it fair to put Beverly Hills first?

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Proposition 15: Yes to Funding for Communities and Schools

We support Proposition 15 on this November’s ballot because it would right an egregious wrong when voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978. That measure was sold on the premise it would limit property-tax increases for older homeowners. But the ballot measure did not distinguish between commercial and residential property, which allowed commercial property investors to surf the cresting wave of tax-revolt in California to a big score. Commercial property owners saw tax assessments rolled-back to 1975 levels and annual increases capped at 2%. It was a gift that’s been giving for four decades. Proposition 15 would force owners of commercial property to pay their fair share while shielding residential property owners from big increases.

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Renters Alliance Endorses Proposition 21

On the November ballot is Proposition 21, “The Rental Affordability Act.” Every tenant should support this ballot measure because it will roll back many, though not all, of the limits on rent control adopted by our landlord-friendly legislature in Sacramento. Nearly every pro-tenant bill each session is shot down by legislators who are not tenants and don’t understand tenant concerns. This by-the-people initiative bypasses the legislature to amend key sections of landlord-tenant law with rental affordability as the top priority. (Heck, it’s right there in the name.) Renters Alliance urges a YES vote on Prop 21!

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Trump’s Executive Order: Too Little for Tenants, and Late Too

The president of the United States on August 8th signed an executive order “to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID–19 national emergency.” The rationale was to prevent the “further spread of COVID–19,” but the order didn’t specify any measure to stem the expected wave of evictions. Namely there was no actual prohibition on eviction for non-payment and no provision for subsidies to help tenants. So what did this executive order accomplish exactly?

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Renters Alliance Position on Mandatory Rent Repayment Plans: A Bad Idea!

City council will discuss modifying the urgency ordinance to possibly implement something like a mandatory rent-repayment plan for tenants who seek forbearance of rent due to COVID-19 emergency measures. No other major California city imposes the requirement as a condition for assistance because it means committing the tenant to an additional monthly financial obligation (on top of the regular rent) at a time when economic uncertainty is at its highest. Here are the points I made to city council.

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The Beverly Hills Carbon Footprint: By the Numbers

The coronavirus stay-at-home order has upended daily living for millions in the Southland. Beyond the implications for public health and the economy, hitting the pause button has put in relief the toll that our collective lifestyle choices take on the environment. But that’s so abstract, isn’t it? Two academics looked in greater detail at those choices by zip code and used that data to generate a ‘carbon footprint’ map for the United States. How do we in Beverly Hills compare?

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Property Maintenance in the Era of COVID: Cleanliness Matters!

Residential rental dwellings must be fit for human habitation and free from ‘dilapidations,’ says California Civil Code section 1941. In part that means “all areas under control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.” Not a high bar! But not all landlords live up to that standard and during the COVID-19 pandemic we may see some landlords shirk their responsibility.

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