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Animal Rights

Beverly Hills Enforcing Ban on Lost-Dog Flyers

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Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 9:45 AM
click to enlarge Lost dogs: Too controversial for the 90210? - COURTESY OF CRAIG HUDSON
  • Courtesy of Craig Hudson
  • Lost dogs: Too controversial for the 90210?

So apparently Beverly Hills has this super OCD ban on putting up any "notice, placard, bill, card, poster, sticker, banner, sign, [or] ad" in a public place.

But it's not like Department of Building and Safety officials constantly go around hunting down every last piece of paperstuff, reports the Beverly Hills Courier -- as is evidenced by "a bevy of fliers posted on City poles."

Here's the thing. When city codes are policed arbitrarily, the loudest and grumpiest whiners always get their way:

Joy Hudson, a 90210 resident whose adorable dog Cleo went missing a little over a month ago, says that "some little lady" in the neighborhood "complained and yelled at us" for putting up lost-dog flyers.

Then the anonymous grump took her stink to City Hall -- and made it count. The "Have you seen Cleo?" fliers were removed last week by Building and Safety, reportedly at the bidding of Mayor William Brien himself.

[Update: Therese Kosterman, spokeswoman for the city, confirms that Building and Safety removed the flyers. "The department doesn't go out looking for them," she says. But "if someone complains, then they act." She also says that the mayor wasn't involved in any way, aside from being CCed in an email. Other that that, says Kosterman, "I don't know what misinterpretation took place."]

With the posters up, tips as to Cleo's whereabouts had been streaming in, Joy Hudson and her husband Craig tell the Courier. (Indeed, no one can sympathize with the disappearance of an animal-child quite like the dog pamperers of the 90210.) But since the flyers were torn down, they say the phone has stopped ringing altogether.

"I just want her back," Cleo's mother tells us over the phone this morning, choking up. "She's sick and she's in need of care. ... She's probably hunkered down under some bushes somewhere."

Cleo was last seen in an alleyway behind the couple's house on Doheny Drive.

The Hudsons say they were informed by Code Enforcement Officer Michael Manaoat that the city doesn't usually enforce the sign ban, but that this time, the mayor had gotten involved. Her husband explains the conversation in detail to the Courier:

Hudson said Manaoat called him after the City received a complaint from the angry resident. The call was to inform Hudson of the complaint, but to let him know that they "usually ignore" such complaints and do not take the fliers down.

The next day, Hudson says Manaoat called and told Hudson that the department had received orders to take the fliers down. Manaoat said he had directly spoken with the Mayor, who instructed Manaoat to take the sign down after receiving citizen complaints.

Glad to see one grumpy old lady with nothing better to do can sabotage another family's emotional search for their pet, simply by complaining loud enough. That's why chokehold bans on simple human methods of communication like flyering (and, ahem, public art) should never be allowed through the policy desk in the first place.

From the city's municipal code:

It shall be unlawful for any person to post, suspend, print, stick, stamp, tack, or otherwise affix, or cause the same to be done, any notice, placard, bill, card, poster, sticker, banner, sign, advertising, or other device calculated to attract the attention of the public to, over, or upon any street right of way, public sidewalk, curb, curbstone, lamp post, hydrant, tree, railroad right of way, electric light pole, telephone pole, telegraph pole, or upon any future of the fire alarm, police, or telephone system of the city, or upon any public building or utility, unless permission so to do is first secured from the council.

(Guess CBS Films won't be doing any advertising in L.A. County's poshest hood.)

"By the way if you go by the 200 & 300 blocks of South Bedford and surrounding area, for days now there are MULTIPLE flyers out for many days now about a lost cat," writes Craig Hudson in an email. "Virtually, the only way to find a lost pet is to put up

flyers in the area."

In next-door Studio City, which falls under L.A. City Hall jurisdiction (aka, free-for-all), one resident with nothing better to do has waged a one-woman war on what she sees as "paper blight," opting to tear it down herself. "One recent sign I took down was from a cat that was lost for three months," she said at a recent neighborhood council meeting. "Those people should realize that the coyotes got that cat a long time ago."

How sweet.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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