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Beverly-Wilshire Homes Association faces lawsuit

By Aaron Blevins, 12/27/2012

Suit alleges organization gives recommendations in exchange for financial support

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The Beverly-Wilshire Homes Association (BWHA) has been giving favorable recommendations to businesses seeking permits, variances and licenses from the city in exchange for financial support, according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 14 by a former member.

The civil suit, filed by Stan Brent, who is also a Mid-City West Community Council (MCWCC) member, names BWHA president Diana Plotkin and former treasurer Lenore Sachs as the defendants. A jury trial has been demanded, with a case management conference scheduled for April 3.

In addition, the suit alleges that the organization’s directors refused “reasonable” settlements with businesses seeking support, opting to pursue legal actions to obtain attorney’s fees instead. The fees, along with the “coerced contributions,” were used for Plotkin’s and Sachs’ personal benefit, according to the lawsuit.

The initial complaint stemmed from an issue with Brent’s membership. According to the lawsuit, Plotkin revoked Brent’s membership last year after he began to question the actions of the association’s board members and directors. His $18 check for annual dues was never cashed or returned, according to the document.

Donald Karpel, Brent’s attorney, said his client wants BWHA officers to reimburse all funding that was misappropriated back to the association. The lawsuit does not cite a particular dollar amount or particular examples of misappropriations, but Karpel said Brent has a “factual basis” for the legal action.

Plotkin said she had been unaware of the lawsuit, and declined to comment on it without an opportunity to consult her attorney. She did refer to the legal action as “stupid,” and said the Beverly Press “better be careful” when writing about the association.

Sachs had not been served court papers either. She said she is no longer the treasurer for BWHA, but she never saw any directors use association funding for personal benefit.

“Nobody spent a penny for anything,” Sachs said. “There was nothing taken for personal benefit. Thankfully, none of us needed it. …I don’t remember anything like that ever happening. Absolutely not. It didn’t happen — not to my knowledge.”

She said the association does its best to serve the community, and that Brent, who she described as “confrontational,” has tried to “stir up trouble” at BWHA meetings in the past.

“We were problem solvers in the community,” Sachs said. “This is how I see us: problem-solvers in the community. …[The lawsuit] is Stan Brent’s mind working on overdrive. He’s just going too far.”

Brent also declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying that he needed to consult his attorney before speaking publicly about the legal action.

 

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4 Responses to “Beverly-Wilshire Homes Association faces lawsuit”

  1. James O'Sullivan says:

    At first glance this lawsuit looks like a simple action filed by a disgruntled Neighborhood Council member against an organization with long standing in the community. However upon reflection I believe this lawsuit has implications far beyond this case because of the chilling effect it will have on organizations that typically argue for or against Land Use projects. Thinking off the top of my head this list would include Homeowners and Residential groups, Civic organizations as well as Chambers of Commerce and could include Federations, “Friends of” groups, HPOZ’s or any group that engages in land use issues. It could eventually ensnare Neighborhood Councils if conflicts arise between board members and the community unless the City Attorney deems all their actions to be covered under the members “scope of employment”. It certainly would accelerate Public Records request to expose relationships between board members and projects that appear before them.
    As it stands the allegations Mr. Brent is making most probably involved projects that appeared before the Mid City West Community Council when he was the Chairman of, and member of the Land Use Committee. In alleging that the organization’s directors refused “reasonable” settlements with businesses one can only wonder what Brent considers REASONABLE? We in the Miracle Mile have had occasion to watch him operate the Land Use committee and as far as we can tell UNREASONABLE means anything other than what the developer wants. His contempt for our community during repeated hearings on land owned by the directors of the Olympia Hospital was nothing short of breathtaking.

    Adding an interesting angle to the mix is Mr. Brent’s attorney, Donald Karpel. Mr. Karpel is billed as a heavyweight who according to TMZ has sued Sean Penn, and multiple entities (Warner Brothers, Century 16 movie theatre, and various doctors) in the James Holmes movie massacre.

    The immediate effect on organizations like the MMRA will be that they will immediately cease any discussion with anyone wishing to develop in the area. Beyond an initial presentation there would be no upside to discussions of any kind. That would leave us in a position to only make decisions based on current zoning and case law with no compromise whatsoever followed up with legal action if necessary. What an unmitigated disaster that would be for everyone involved! Dozens of projects in the Miracle Mile were arrived at after much discussion and compromise on all sides. The Courtyard building between Masselin and Curson is a prime example of all parties coming together for a spectacular project. That project marked the beginning of the revitalization of the Miracle Mile and provided the best example of a private park (on 8th street) for public use.

    Mr. Brent’s lawsuit jeopardizes much more than he can possibly imagine.

  2. Lorelei Shark says:

    Stan Brent is founder and head of Beverly Wilshire HOA, a ragtag group of homeowners and builders, who are on a tear. Their sole purpose is the mansionization of Beverly Grove and its extended area.

    Stan Brent is also a member of Mid City West and sits on the board of MCW Planning Land Use Committee, where he recently served as chair. While serving as chair, Mr. Brent sent out correspondence to members of his PLUC , attempting to influence their vote, which is a violation of the Brown Act.
    An excerpt…
    “be aware the City of LA was reported to have the second worst traffic in the United States behind Honolulu, and worse even than New York or Chicago. I bring this to your attention because denying this or any project based on traffic becomes a moot point. The traffic is bad and the addition of several hundred car trips a day generated by this project is a drop in the ocean and will have no significant impact on this busy corner except to alleviate some of the commercial traffic that now has no parking at all.”

    This was such an outrageous correspondence, I wondered at the time if Mr. Brent had any special interest in this project. He violated the law governing his position while attempting to influence fellow committee members to change zoning laws in favor of the developer.

    But as I merely question, Mr. Brent blindly accuses and flaunts a lawsuit with dogmatic libelous rhetoric, online and in print, against Beverly Wilshire Homes Association, Diana Plotkin and Lenore Sachs, without one shred of substantiating documentation.

    Prejudice and personal interests have shown Mr. Brent’s bias, rendering him unfit to act in his capacity as board member of MCW and committee member of MCW PLUC.

    Stan Brent’s presence is not in the best interests of the Community Council nor the community he chooses to serve.

    Mr. Brent must be unseated if MCW PLUC is to have any respect from and benefit to the community

  3. Lorelei Shark says:

    I know you did not publish my editorial – but I wanted to correct the first sentence.
    Stan Brent is founder and head of Beverly Grove HOA

  4. Joyce Gold says:

    My son, Mark Gold, had a dream to open his own restaurant. I supported him and his dream 100%. There was a space on Beverly Blvd. for sale as the owners at that time were moving to a larger space.

    Mark pushed forward getting investors, hiring an attorney and putting a deal together. He moved his wife and two children around the corner from the restaurant. Little did he know what was ahead of him. Timing for one was not on his side. We were entering some very tough economic times.

    He opened in September 2009 with rave reviews. The next three years were challenging ones with the economy being what is was. He worked very hard which is expected and to many peoples surprise, the business survived and is presently open today. To say the least, it has been a struggle but Mark has stayed optimistic.

    Then along came Diana Plotkin and the Beverly Wilshire HOA. They have put many restaurants out of business. Mark has had to retain lawyers, get the community involved, and try to fight this group. Many contacted him telling him how corrupt this group is and that Diana Plotkin is a very powerful influence on the councilman due to political contributions. If you go back in time, read the articles written, you begin to see this. I am so angry at the councilman and the BW-HOA for seeking to put a small business that employs 12 people out of business. It is this type of small business that grows the economy.

    I sincerely hope that some type of investigation is done so that young business entrepreneur’s can fulfill their dreams.


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