January 18, 2021 § 11 Comments
Cyclists who remember the anti-cycling campaign by divorcee-hermit-turned-pariah Robert L. Chapman, Jr., are now getting the last laugh as they watch his white elephant languish on the real estate market for the absurd price of $9.5M. The fun is even better because he’s been trying to unload this stinker since shortly after buying it, with what appears to be at least one failed attempt in 2011, when the owner sought a whopping $10.9M for one of the few properties in Palos Verdes Estates that continues to lose market value as time goes by as compared to appreciation of prices in PVE as a whole. Needless to say, there were no takers.
An objective observer might think the owner has been desperate to get out of this gilded dump for going on ten years. If the house was bought in 2007, that means it took a mere four years for Chapman to presumably sour on the crowds, the police reports, the problems with neighbors, and the ongoing party palace down belowr, all “extras” that a buyer can expect with the purchase of 612 Paseo del Mar. Savvy buyers have taken a pass on this overpriced lump of garish bad taste, and there’s no suggestion that what was ugly then has somehow become beautiful now.
Doesn’t look like 2021 is going to be any better. Now, mired in the muck of a collapsing market, this albatross of a fixer-upper which is too expensive to tear down, too expensive to remodel, and too ugly to live in, is struggling in the one market that always seems to win. Exceptions prove the rule …
In an attempt to get some sucker to bite, a failed real estate copywriter, perhaps Chapman, has penned this write-up of what Chapman has laughably named “Villa Activista,” but which the market refers to as “Alba Elephantis.”
To protect the public from the silliness with which Alba Elephantis is being marketed, I pulled down sections of the the website www.612paseodelmar.com and have provided a handy translator for the crazypants marketing hokum used to lure unsuspecting sods into buying this millstone.
Villa Activista is a trophy property located at 612 Paseo del Mar – the intersection of Bluff and Malaga Coves in Palos Verdes Estates, California. This absolutely authentic French-Italian villa was built sedulously upon nearly an acre on the prime block of the most prestigious street in the city … Villa Activista’s fortunate owners look out unobstructed upon spectacular natural scenery but remain inconspicuous to the outside world.http://www.612paseodelmar.com
Crazypants translator: Has CP ever seen a French-Italian villa? No? Let us help! View the photos below and compare with CP’s “absolutely authentic French-Italian villa.”
CP Translator: “Spectacular natural scenery” in this case means “gorgeous ocean view with ringside view of endless traffic jams, stripping surfers, and party house down below regularly filled with partying rentals.” Another hilarious word he uses is the “Acropolis effect,” emphasizing that in Alba Elephantis you will be perched above the teeming masses. That is actually true. But he neglects the other half of the “Acropolis effect,” which is that sound waves travel up, so you get to hear all the fascinating conversations down below. Morning coffee with a cursing fistfight? Check. Glass of wine in the evening hearing people talk about their epic surf sesh? Check. All-day-long prattle by the public wafting up through your open windows and doors? Check, check, check. So exclusive and privy to start your day with “Fuckin’ killer shit man!”
In the case of Villa Activista, this ocean view mirroring Italy’s Amalfi Coast is the focal point from nearly every room in the house.http://www.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: Ah, yes, mirrors the Amalfi Coast … What he means is “apes, and fails to copycat Amalfi.” Folks, the PV Peninsula is pretty, but it’s hardly a world-class destination. Comparing this heavily developed, tiny stretch of coastline replete with eyesores, no culture, no cuisine, and the hideous traffic getting in and out of PV with the Amalfi Coast is hucksterism of the worst sort. What the author means is “another faux Italian home designed to fool people who’ve never been to Italy.”
Horcada Hill homes’ [sic] have a front-row seat to an everchanging [sic] show of sea life, boats and paddleboarders.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: Fucking surfers and traffic everywhere, morning to night, whenever there’s surf. Which there usually is. Note: Who in their right mind wants a front row seat to boats and paddleboarders? Isn’t the point of expensive homes to have “unobstructed views of nature”?
Privacy and Peace Perfectly Protected: 612 Paseo del Mar’s massive land size of nearly one acre, combined with its landscaping and dwelling’s positioning on a sloping lot, gives its residents the ultimate in peace and privacy on top of privileged vicinity to Bluff Cove … The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department headquartered a mere two minute drive down Palos Verdes Drive West deepens one’s foundation for peace of mind. Unlike other neighborhoods further away, squad cars patrol this neighborhood with frequency akin to a private security force.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: The area swarms with outsiders, so it takes every bit of design to screen out the saggy tummies and jockstraps. Years of reports to the police department have resulted in constant security patrols due to constant fears of crime. The privacy is a fantasy and the fear of intrusions are real. Also, Alba Elephantis has a public-access dirt path that leads from Via Horcada down to the bluff, a handy shortcut for surfers, visitors, amateur photographers, gawkers, and others who want to park in front your home and easily walk to the “surfers paradise.”
With real estate being all about “location, location, location,” from Villa Activista one goes from gazing at to [sic] splashing inthe [sic] ocean after merely a skip across the street. Imagine not having to load the car to hit one of L.A. [sic] “raddest” surf spots: Bluff Cove. Also known as Little Waikiki, the Cove is famous for its long rides both left and right as swells pushing east break upon the rock reef just offshore.612paseodelmar.com
CP Translator: Imagine everyone else in SoCal loading their car to park in front of your home so they can enjoy public access to hit one of LA’s “raddest” surf spots. Also known as “Police Patrol Central,” the massive weekend surf crowds are famous for parties, good times, and a dawn-to-dusk party looking up at your jacuzzi.
If the surf is flat or blown out, peel off your wetsuit and lace up your hiking boots612paseodelmar.
CP Translator: Peel off your wetsuit because SO HAS EVERYONE ELSE. Learn to teach your small children how to say, “That is a hairy penis” and other fun educational projects from the deck.
January 3, 2021 § 10 Comments
A couple of days ago I posted here about what appears, at least to me, to be the wildly over-inflated value of the home for sale at 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, also known as 701 Via Horcada. In that post I wondered why the 701 Via Horcada address was not being used for the listing and speculated that it was because owner Robert L. Chapman, Jr., doesn’t want the numerous police reports associated with the home and neighborhood to pop up when someone does a search of the home.
Apparently, the Paseo del Mar address is “worth” more than the Via Horcada address (“Horcada” in Spanish means “raving lunatic”), as Paseo del Mar is the most desirable address on the peninsula. So this explains the 612 Paseo del Mar listing, although when you google 701 Via Horcada, the same house pops up in real estate home descriptions. This fits right in with the potential deception spotted in the Secretary of State filings for 701 Via Horcada, discussed as well in that previous post. Chapman, who I suspect to be a relentlessly anonymous internet troll, appears to spend much of his time covering his tracks so that the “real” Chapman cannot be definitively nailed down. Same with 612 Paseo del Mar; is it really 612 Paseo del Mar or 701 Via Horcada?
Inquiring minds could likely care less.
What inquiring minds will care about is this: Since its purchase by Chapman in 2007 at the height of the real estate boom and immediately before the massive bust, the property has gained relatively little in value. It’s an odd strategy of “buy high, sell low” for a tiny fellow who claims to be a stock market balding-boy-genius, and there’s little doubt in my mind that 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 turned out to be a bad investment and that Chapman is now desperate to unload the big, stinky turd by spritzing some perfume on it in the form of a fancy address name change. Add to that the fact that he may well be imprisoned in 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 simply because he is so loathed that wherever he goes he is met with disgust, distaste, and shunning. This would not be a pleasant living environment for his poor family, who might well be wondering when the next restraining order is going to magically appear on their doorstep.
However, there are real reasons why this overpriced, under-sized “estate” is floundering on the market. In a word: “TRAFFIC.”
I’ve been bed-bound since returning from Texas as I try to rest and eat my way back back into fitness, and for the first time in forever I hopped in a friend’s car to go get a cup of coffee at Golden Cove. As we drove along PV Drive, we noted the extraordinary sunset that was shaping up and the extraordinary snarl of cars that made the very entry into PV a nasty, crawling, freeway inch-along.
“I wonder if the surf is up?” I said.
“If it is, you know what that means for Paseo del Mar.”
“Indeed I do.”
So we dropped down to the lower portion of Paseo del Mar to see what the traffic was like leading up to Bluff Cove, 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, and all the other hapless homes located on this supposedly exclusive street.
All I can say is that the traffic was mind boggling. The surf was indeed up, and the combination of people having nothing to do on the holiday weekend, the stay-at-home order, and the stunning sunset had turned Paseo del Mar into an amazingly frenzied hub of activity, just the thing that you’d want if you were in the market for a $9.5M home. My favorite was the guy and his wife who had set up for the sunset with their own little generator and arch of electric lights, the perfect guests that you’d like to have if you were seeking the exclusivity and solitude that money so often promises to buy.
But whatever mess we encountered on the lower slopes was nothing as compared to the crush of people and cars smack in front of the public coastline facing 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274. In addition to a giant piece of garbage a few feet in front of the “auxiliary” mailbox, there was a giant blackened garbage can and a whiny admonition to “Pack Out Your Trash.” Those packing the trash in were present in swarms, happy little surfers and surfettes parked bumper to bumper where they had presumably been sampling waves, the SoCal groove, and the view from the backyard of 612 Paseo del Mar all fucking day long.
- Chapman is selling.
- The value of 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 has barely risen since 2007.
- Everyone who doesn’t live there wants to come visit.
As the Bluff Cove HOA states, the area around 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 is indeed a “Surfer’s Paradise,” but it’s more than that. It’s a destination, a day-cation for visitors from all over LA, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. And any potential buyer who thinks that the this strip of public, open-access, world-class coastline is going to decline in popularity as the covids remain, group gatherings diminish, social distancing stays in place, restaurants and large entertainment options are limited, and the real estate market tanks, well, that person needs to revisit reality.
Nor was the awful traffic jam that we encountered limited to the surf spot at Bluff Cove aka 612 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274. It continued all the way down the street up to the cul-de-sac, with cars jammed in every which way. Descending Bluff Cove, Via Horcada itself, a dead-end, was jammed head-to-toe with happy surfers who had scored parking right in front of what was almost certainly the home of Robert L. Chapman, Jr., himself, although we didn’t bother to drive down the street and see for ourselves. Although I’d been considering putting in an offer for the home, an even swap for my nifty North Face tent, seeing all the traffic helped me conclude that this was the last place on earth I’d want to live.
Peace of mind? Purchasing a piece of paradise?
Check out these photos and see for yourself. If it’s traffic you want, you can already get that in LA on the 405 pretty much any time of day or night.
And the good news is that it’s not going to set you back $9.5 million U.S. dollars.
April 12, 2018 § 8 Comments
That’s what it probably felt like, a gentle, soft pillow slowly but firmly pressing down, and down, and down, and then … done.
That’s how it must have seemed to Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., as the ballots trickled in like water torture, vote by vote, slowly surpassing, then overwhelming, then crushing the fucking life out of his opposition to the ballot measure that would fund the Palos Verdes Mistakes’ cop shop.
All that sturm, all that drang, all those concerned citizen groups, all those HOAs with a membership of two, all those hundreds of emails, thousands of rants, billions of NextDoor character assassinations, trillions of anonymous Internet troll handles, all of it slowly crushed under the weight of a simple process called “democracy,” where the tiny minority of loud, horrible, obnoxious, and voluble screechers were shouted down by silent little paper slips stuck into a ballot box.
Is there an alternate Urban Dictionary definition for “Ankur” somewhere, one that means “Squashed troll”?
But lest we celebrate too soon, here’s what happened, and what didn’t.
What didn’t happen
Palos Verdes Mistakes didn’t put its police department under new management and vow to roll out a transparent law enforcement agency that would fairly enforce the laws. It simply voted to keep its more expensive but locally controlled police department. It also voted to spend more money to give city employees a good living wage and a good retirement. On a human level, that’s pretty awesome.
However, there was never any question about whether or not the laws would be fairly enforced, whether under LA Sheriff’s Department or under PVE Police Department. The mandate of the Peninsula communities has always been and will always be to keep out blacks, minorities, and the poor, with a few special exceptions. Gardeners, nannies, housekeepers, and construction workers, you know what I mean.
What did happen, Part 1
The good citizens of Palos Verdes Mistakes finally had their say about Robert Chapman and his demagoguery, and they said it with crushing finality. The vote to keep the cop shop and pay more taxes was over 70% for, 29% against. In elections, getting 70% of the vote for anything typically only happens in Louisiana. That’s how disgusted the community was by the anti-Measure E shenanigans.
After being subjected to personal taunts and vile insults of every kind, after being targeted by the infamous PV hate website, abused in endless email tirades, and demeaned in countless interactions with police and public officials, the people of PV refused to cave in to this Trumpian, Hitlerian, Orbanesque style of personal assassination politicking and they repudiated Bob Chapman with a thudding, steel-toed kick to the soft parts. He’ll be groaning about it for years to come. Decades.
This wasn’t even about the police force anymore. It was about the community’s collective revulsion at seeing basically decent people get pilloried, attacked, and reviled by a mini-tyrant for simply doing their job, or for disagreeing, or for exercising their civic rights and their right to free speech.
What did happen, Part 2
Less noble, the folks of Palos Verdes Mistakes behaved predictably, although I didn’t predict it. On a policy level, they voted to keep their police department because their fear of change outweighed their hatred of taxation. PVE was built to keep people out, a sentiment which itself is built on a sentiment of fear–fear of people who are different, fear of people who are poor, fear of people who (you wrongly think) want what you’ve got.
And in repudiating Chapman, PVE confirmed what people have long known about the city, namely that it will always repudiate outsiders, and no one was more of an outsider than Chapman. He belongs to the community as a resident, but not as a member. Whether it’s the exclusive privilege to surf with the graying kooks at Lunada Bay, the privilege to serve on city council, or the privilege to mix and socialize, Chapman has always been held at arms-length no matter how rabidly he carries the exclusionary banner of “Keep ’em out!” as he tries to out-PVE the PVE locals themselves.
I once lived in a small town where in order to be considered local, you had to have grandparents in the cemetery. Everyone else was an interloper and treated accordingly.
Seventy percent of the vote? That’s a message even Bob Chapman may understand.
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March 29, 2018 § 8 Comments
In the right-wing corner we have the good citizens of PV Estates, supporting Measure E and hoping like hell that the community will foot a tax increase allowing the city to keep its police department. In the ultra-right-wing corner we have the Worst Neighbor Ever a/k/a Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr. a/ka/ Ankur, opposing Measure E and hoping like hell that the community will shut down its police department and obtain law enforcement services through an allegedly cheaper contract with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
But who are these two opponents?
The tattle-tale of the tape
It’s my opinion that Chapman is the person behind the Bluff Cove Homeowner’s Association, a “group” whose membership, directors, bylaws, or actual existence as a bona fide HOA I’ve been unable to conclusively determine. It’s certainly not listed as a corporation with the California Secretary of State, however, unincorporated HOA’s are also allowed under California law. The fact that Bluff Cove may simply be a #fakeHOA doesn’t mean that its goals aren’t legitimate. It’s possible that the best option for cyclists riding through PV Estates is the elimination of the police department and having the laws enforced by the sheriff’s department.
Simply because “Ankur” (better yet, “Stinkur) is the World’s Worst Neighbor doesn’t mean he’s wrong about Measure E. In fact, social gadflies all the way back to Socrates have been shunned and put to death for supporting unpopular ideas. As repulsive as Stinkur may be, and even though hiring LASD may be his worst nightmare if it ever comes to pass, his idea should be evaluated on the merits and not rejected out of hand simply because he’s the abominable next door neighbor from the planet Crapulon.
Stinkur’s race resume
At the same time, it pays to know with whom you’re dealing, and Stinkur has left a trail of Internet rubble ten miles wide. By understanding his tactics, mindset, and psychology, everyone benefits.
Let’s start with the basics. What does Chapman do for a living? He buys and sells stocks. Based on the information I’ve been able to glean, he does it very, very well. Although he’s a fourth-string scrub, more of a palm frond fund than a hedge fund compared to his idol Carl Icahn, a fourth-rate scrub lugging dirty jockstraps in the stock market world is still an incredibly smart and successful person. And note this: No one gave Chapman his financial success. He took it.
Among his successes was his assault on Vitesse Semiconductor Corp., where he correctly identified poor management and made activist-investor history by applying pressure on the Vitesse board through the use of the mandatory 13-D filing. This arcane SEC regulatory scrap of paper allows you to attach exhibits, which Chapman did to great effect by writing nasty, insulting letters and appending them to the 13-D form. In the staid world of finance, Chapman’s vituperative, arrogant, and personal attacks made waves. It’s a trait that served him well then, and a style that appears throughout the PV Estates attack web site that sure looks, sounds, and smells like Chapman’s handiwork.
Here are a few samples of Chapman’s filings with the SEC. You’ll need to scroll down to the bottom to read the exhibits, which are copies of letters written by Stinkur. My favorite line in the American Properties Trust filing is where Chapman reports that he was called a “fucking pain in the ass.”
Unfortunately, Chapman’s graphomania will get the better of you. It will beat you down into a sobbing, convulsing mash of neurons because these are only the tip of the iceberg. By using the SEC’s EDGAR search service you can pull up all of his filings, many of which were under the hilariously named “Chap-Cap” fund, imagery which makes me think of a short, tubby, bald little man waddling around with a stick wearing nothing but a pair of fake leather chaps.
But as satisfying as it is to poke fun at his grammar flubs, extra spacing, commas in the wrong place, run-on sentences, tired cliches, impressively uninventive insults, and generally awful prose, his writing reveals a lot. First, he’s smart. Second, pounding away at the keyboard is more than a tool for berating the PV Estates locals: It’s his job, which means he makes money at it. Third, he succeeded in finance by poking people in the eye. Don’t think for a moment that any amount of abuse, name-calling, or proportionate responses will calm him down. He was born angry and mean, and that’s how he’ll die. Pity the woman he calls wife and the child he calls daughter, is all I can say.
Reading a few paragraphs of Chapman’s indiscriminate spleen, whether directed at the director of a big company or some middle-class working man just trying to get by, you might get the idea that he’s a raging lunatic. Reality check: He’s not raging. This 2017 telephone interview on CNBC investing reveals anything but the timbre of a crazy person. (If you’re wondering why he chose to do the interview by phone, it’s possible that someone told him not to ever show up again in public wearing this thrift-store necktie and floppy garbage sack of a suit.) To the contrary, his cool, collected, informed, and intelligent observations create a trainwreck of contrast if all you’re accustomed to are his volcanic sewage vents on the Internet. And buried in the interview he reveals the working of his psyche: He loves opposing people, but you gotta have sound analysis.
This bodes poorly for the PV Estates denizens trying to keep their police department on life support. Chapman may truly be “Stinkur, the World’s Worst Neighbor.” But if you don’t think he has arrayed a solid and defensible set of facts, you had better redo your homework assignment. Chapman’s analysis of the attempted takeover of Herbalife was spot on, and we can assume he had at least fifty bucks on the line. What makes you think his analysis of Measure E is any less considered?
The qualities that make Chapman a good investor–solitary, introverted, bad people skills, highly mathematical–are ones that make him a flop of a corporate manager. In his brief stint as CEO at EDCI Holdings, he started off with Trumpian grandiosity, bragging that “As CEO, my primary goal is to lead EDCI’s transition into a respected, fairly valued public company by prudently and diligently applying all or part of its approximately $50 million in holding company cash towards the equity component of a small capitalization acquisition.” A couple of months later, the company was liquidating.
What does it all mean for Measure E?
The problem with Chapman’s race resume, of course, is that he has excelled in investing and therefore thinks that his intelligence and judgment automatically transfer into local politics. He may be right. Attack dog methods, smearing opponents, incorrectly citing the law, creating the illusion of organization, and relentlessly pummeling inboxes and chat rooms with thousands and thousands of words could well be what seals the deal. In any municipal tax fight, the winners are usually punishing and loud.
On the other hand, it could well backfire. Chapman writes a lot, but he writes badly. He lacks humility even in parts per trillion, and as soon as he veers away from finance he comes across as more blibber-blabber than savant.
Fortunately, my public records request resulted in hundreds of pages of emails relating to Chapman and Measure D, the predecessor to Measure E. So there’s plenty to analyze. When it comes to paying more taxes for anything, it’s hard to see a snobby enclave like PV Estates assenting to it. But when it comes to living with anything less than on-demand law enforcement against outsiders, especially those who are black, non-white, or poor, it’s equally hard to see PV Estates voting away their cop shop.
Irresistible force, meet immovable object, so pull up a ringside chair. The price of a bag of of popcorn in PV Estates is about to go up.
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March 27, 2018 Comments Off on Battle of the cowards, Part 1
Yesterday I was scrolling through the list of web sites that have recently linked to this blog, and I came across an unusual one: SavePVpolice.org. It’s not often that the police are designated as an endangered species, a list more often populated by things like democracy, the First Amendment, and equality under the law.
Not very intrigued, I clicked on the link and it took me to an anonymous web site purporting to support the Palos Verdes Estates police department and “Measure E,” the tax measure that PVE residents will vote for or against on April 10, and depending on the outcome, will either re-fund or abolish the city police department and replace it with a policing contract through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
This “PVE Cops Matter” web site lists the bare bones of Measure E and why you should vote for it. A more detailed impartial analysis is here, and the rabid voice against the tax proposal is here. At the end of the day it’s a bunch of almost rich people fighting over how much tax money to spend to keep out the riff-raff, so, whatevs.
But in the early part of the day, or rather the wee hours, it has something to do with democracy, with #fakenews, with Internet trolls, with the cowardice of the almost rich, and of course with cycling.
Almost three years ago the cycling hordes remonstrated with the powers that be in PV Estates and got them to put up a couple of signs stating the law, that cars must give cyclists three feet when passing. This created a backlash of incredible proportions and resulted in the mayor and her city council slapping down any further steps to enhance road safety for vulnerable users.
The fury of the almost rich people was impressive, such that the police were temporarily put on “biker harassment duty,” resulting in many trips down to Torrance courthouse to have bogus tickets dismissed. Over time, though, the unending stream of cyclists and the intensity of the political battle caused most PV Estates residents to shrug and stop caring, finally realizing that cyclists pose zero hazard to their Rage Rovers, and finally grasping that every bike rolling through PV Estates meant one less car.
“Less cars in our city.” This was arithmetic they could understand, and it happened in tandem with a lawsuit against the city, its police force, and several residents alleging all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors in regard to violence at the Lunada Bay surf break. In short, the bikers lost the battle but won the war. The cops no longer harass us, most are downright friendly, and the nastiest residents aren’t much worse than resigned to having healthful, safe outdoor activities in their non-exclusive community.
Little boy chicken
One price for engaging in civic discourse in PV Estates is, unfortunately, the risk that you might incur the wrath of Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr. Early on in the bike battle I heard whispers about this guy, mostly along the lines of “be careful,” and “he is spiteful beyond belief,” and “Bob has the world’s worst baldheaded short man complex.”
It turns out that although the first warning was needless, and the third warning was possibly true, in my opinion Chapman really is the most horrible person in PV Estates. And for an enclave whose mayor and city council hate people for riding bicycles, that’s saying something.
Who is Chapman? That’s a good question, because much of the conflict and fury that I encountered when advocating for safety for vulnerable road users seemed to be fomented by a small group of truly hateful people. After listening to the rumors, I wondered if Chapman were perhaps the Hater-in-Chief, so I made a public records request to the city to find out if he was as nasty as I had heard.
Several hundred dollars and more than a month later, the horribly overtaxed city clerk handed me a disk with all of the documents responsive to my request. Although Chapman’s name had been redacted from many of the documents since they are police incidents, given the fact that the documents were produced in response to a request for “activities or complaints regarding or connected with Robert Chapman,” it is my opinion, and will likely be yours, too, that the person responsible for the great majority of these these complaints is not someone you’d want to ever call “neighbor,” let alone “in-law.”
The police incident reports connected to Chapman are astounding, so I’ve broken them down into three files. Note that these are all public documents and available to anyone willing to make the request and pay the copying fee. They are only current through March, 2017, so if you make your own request you will likely unearth a lot more.
But these records documenting the World’s Worst Neighbor Ever are not all. Chapman is also the ultimate keyboard warrior, a guy who I’ve never seen show up to contest an issue before the city council, but who prefers to flood the world with his opinions via email and, I also believe, anonymous Internet commentary.
In response to my records request, the city also released hundreds of emails from Chapman, many of which bear his name and company logo, and others which use one of his favorite handles, “ankur.” You will get a big laugh when you read the Urban Definition of “ankur,” and try to square it with this bald, squat, middle-aged Internet tough guy holed up in an ugly house as he complains to the police about raccoons.
Many of the emails relate to the hilarious Chapman “assault” case; others relate to his virulent opposition to Measure D, the precursor to Measure E, which he now also opposes and leads the charge against. I’ll post those and an analysis of the Measure E funding bill later in this series.
When chickens battle
One of the hallmarks of cowardice is anonymity, especially when used to tear down others. The Bluff Cove HOA web site as well as the web site dedicated to attacking individual PV residents and cops (since put behind a registration wall), bear great similarity to Chapman’s writing, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that he’s the author.
But The World’s Worst Neighbor is old news in PV Estates, and he is in many ways its most representative resident. Chapman’s hostility to non-residents, his aggressive use of his copious free time to badger opponents, his vindictiveness, his shame at being rich but not super rich, and his belief that the public should be subordinate to his personal wants is what the establishment of places like PV Estates were all about in the first place, with a particular emphasis on the exclusion of blacks and non-whites. So as odious as Chapman is, he’s also a fair representative of the community and its mores, too. The violence at Lunada Bay and the hate crime attack against the Pakistani liquor shop owner in PVE a few years back didn’t germinate in a petri dish of love, acceptance, diversity, and justice.
You need look no farther than the web site opposing him and dedicated to :saving” the PVE police department to find the commonality … this web site is anonymous, too. Apparently when you are outraged and angered in PV Estates, you scurry off to your computer and let ’em have it, anonymously.
Because, you know, that’s how Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers.
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October 19, 2017 § 35 Comments
I winced when I saw a couple of recent tweets by Peter Flax and Ted Rogers acknowledging that their support for the road diets in Playa del Rey and other parts of Los Angeles have been beaten back by the entitled cager class. Peter has written a great article about the fake democracy, fake news, and relentless trolling that has played an outsized role in perverting government on the local level into what it mostly is on the national level: Everything for me, nothing for you, with “me” being the wealthy and “you” being everyone else.
Flax, Rogers, and a whole host of advocates are feeling the pain that South Bay cyclists felt last year when the PV Estates City Council, fueled by the trolling of Garrett Unno and his horrible wife Zoe, the unprincipled rage of bad people like Cynthia Zaragoza, and the anonymous, pseudonymous trolling by Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., voted to shelve any proactive steps that would make PV safer for vulnerable road users. Flax and Rogers have come to grips with two nasty realities:
- The trolls oppose policies that can prevent killing or maiming vulnerable road users.
- The trolls see such bloodshed as a reasonable price for their convenience.
- The trolling powerfully affects the levers of governmental power.
When the realization hits, it’s devastating. Voting, canvassing, public debate, even modest funding by advocacy groups … all of these things lose to the power of the trolls. The power of a few moderately wealthy, angry trolls who have lots of time on their hands and limitless spleen to vent can galvanize entire voting blocs and can steamroll the needs of the many for the selfish wants of the few. Facts, data, logic, and republican ideals of protecting the weakest in society are laughable concepts that mean nothing when it comes to making transportation decisions regarding bicyclists and pedestrians.
With regard to making LA’s streets safer for vulnerable road users, though, the defeat is largely a function of advocates’ failure use existing law. Road diets, road striping, segregated cycle tracks, and bike lanes are the byproduct of a cyclist-inferiority pathology that has been vigorously promoted by cagers and motordom. Thanks to relentless fearmongering, many cyclists now believe that the only way they can safely use the roadways is by being segregated from it, and their overwhelming fear is of being hit from the rear, even though statistics show that such collisions are a minority of all car-bike collisions.
The bitter truth is this: Whether or not cyclists think that lane control works, road diets and bike infrastructure won’t work in Los Angeles’s angry, white urban areas. White and affluent cagers have shown that they are more than happy to subsidize the perception of speed and efficiency with more pedestrian/cycling deaths. It’s no different from the blase attitude towards the Las Vegas Massacre and Terrorist Attack. Such deaths are the well known, well accepted, and perfectly irrational price that America is more than happy to pay for the unrestricted right to have and use guns. Why should additional dead and maimed vulnerable road users be any different?
Hint: They aren’t.
Unlike the road diets that are never going to happen and the citywide carving out of bike lanes from normal traffic lanes that will never come to pass, lane control uses existing law to empower cyclists and make their activities safer. But empowerment isn’t something that comes and knocks at your door. You have to take it.
This means knowing the circumstances under which you are entitled to take up the full travel lane, when you have to ride as far to the right as practicable, and when you have to pull over to let faster traffic through. Learning these things and pounding them into the heads of cyclists is a task that few advocacy groups want to do because they are so committed to the infrastructure policies that angry cager Angelenos have proven they will never accept. I challenge anyone in LA County Bike Coalition to come to PV Estates or Rancho PV, two of the best cycling destinations in America, and make any headway at all against the evil mayor and her callus henchwankers. To add to the impossibility of positive policies, monstrous and slothful bike hater Zoe Unno now sits on the traffic safety committee. It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse and giving her a carving knife and gas range to boot.
If bike advocates haven’t gotten the message, they need to listen again: Los Angeles isn’t going to cede an inch of roadway for your exclusive use. So admit defeat and take up arms using existing law: Teach your friends and fellow cyclists, and most importantly teach yourself how to ride safely and legally in the traffic lane. After my years of experience with this technique, I’m confident you’ll find that the water is fine.
Another harsh reality has gradually become clear. As unfair as it may be, and as much of a double standard as it is, we are at a point in cager-bike relations when you have to take care of yourself first. This means lights. If you’re running anything less than two powerful headlamps and anything less than 3-4 powerful lights from the rear at all times, day and night, you are heaping additional risk onto yourself, especially if you are still riding in the gutter or in the door zone. As much as the PV cagers may hate cyclists, the chances are slim that they will kill you intentionally–with the exception, of course, of John Bacon, who appears to have died precisely because of an intentional hit.
In short, the people have spoken: They hate you and don’t care if you die. But at the same time, they don’t want to get your blood on their hood or, even worse, see an increase in their insurance premium. So take the lane. Ride like a Christmas tree. It still beats living on Mom’s couch.
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July 25, 2017 § 30 Comments
I was digging through the mail and came across an envelope that had actual handwriting on it. It was from a lady named Ann. She had read a letter to the editor in a magazine called The Sun. The writer was from PV Estates, and in her letter she said that a story she had read in The Sun made her think differently about bicycling.
Apparently bicycling in PV Estates has been getting a bad, or rather worse name over the last year. When you have a small community stocked with even one hairless shrub as horribly defective as Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., it doesn’t take much to poison everyone.
Anyway, this woman Ann sent me The Sun with the story by Heather Sellers. It’s called “Pedal, Pedal, Pedal.” I hope you take a few minutes to read this spectacular and uplifting memoir. It’s something that every cyclist can relate to, the story of transformation, and Heather tells it so well and with such artfulness and power that all you have to do is switch around a few names and words and the story seems like your own.
This got me to wondering why so many people have been transformed by bicycling. Maybe it’s the same with golf or basketball or any human endeavor into which you pour yourself. Maybe bicycling seems special simply because it’s so accessible, unlike golf, and the joys of full-gas basketball don’t typically go much beyond age 35 simply because your knees give out.
Whether it’s unique or not, bicycling is transformational for a whole bunch of people. Is it because cycling is the thing that most closely approximates flying under your own power? Is it because you can go long distances exerting yourself while still able to think, talk, reflect, plan, relax? Is it because no matter what your age, with proper preparation you can bury yourself physically as completely as if you were twenty? Or is it because of the funny clothes and goofy tan?
Whatever the reason, Heather Sellers got it right. Get out of the house and pedal, pedal, pedal. And don’t let the tumbleweeds get you down!
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July 8, 2017 § 27 Comments
I had one the nicest things happen to me yesterday that’s ever happened in my professional career. A group of friends who had been wrongly pulled over by a L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, then harassed, then wrongly cited for obeying the law, invited me to a thank-you dinner.
The thank-you was because I defended all eleven of the sixteen defendants who decided to fight the bogus charges. I’d like to say that everyone was acquitted due to my amazing legal skills and brilliant courtroom wizardry, but with the exception of one actual trial, all of the cases were dismissed because the citing officer failed to appear.
Of course nothing is as simple as it sounds. Deputy Castro, the outrageous and offensive cop who wrote the tickets, did appear once, for the first trial. With the help of expert testimony from Gary Cziko, and on-deck help from Geoff Loui, and due to the deputy’s confusion, dishonesty, misrepresentation, and ignorance of the law, in that first trial the defendant was acquitted.
Deputy Castro was amazed and even a bit angry when the judge ruled for the cyclist; we were kind of shocked as well. It’s not often that the court puts on a full trial, replete with expert witnesses, to fight a bike citation that carries no DMV points and that the People have already offered to settle for fifty bucks.
That one small win had big consequences for the rest of the defendants and for the cop. Deputy Castro, shortly thereafter, was transferred out of the traffic division. You can imagine that the captain was not pleased. Castro had called in a helicopter and five additional squad cars to write up the sixteen cyclists. Additionally, most of the citations had to be amended because Castro had put down the wrong location of the violation. When you tote up the officer time, helicopter time, squad cars, time spent processing, then amending the tickets, it was a significant action on the part of the department given the minor nature of the “violation” of CVC 21202a.
Deputy Castro looked foolish to the court as she lied and contradicted herself under cross-examination, but you have to think that where she really lost face is with her fellow deputies — going to all that trouble to call out so many officers to write a stupid bike citation that she couldn’t even make stick. Keep in mind that cops have pride about their work. No policeman, with the possible exception of the Thank-Dog-He’s-Gone-Deppity-Knox, takes pride in being known as a bike ticket violation writer. It’s drudgery, has zero cachet, garners zero professional respect, and is only done when there is either (a) absolutely no other law to enforce or (b) when the city council has demanded a cyclist crackdown. (a) and (b) almost always occur in tandem …
In the short term, the willingness of the cyclists to challenge these trumped up charges led to one terrible cop being booted from the traffic beat. In the long term it reinforced to the Lomita Substation that there really are more important law enforcement issues in Rancho Palos Verdes. It communicated that with limited resources, the department would be well advised to go pick on someone else, as these fake citations will be fought tooth and nail.
The cyclists who chose to fight instead of pay had to “waste” time and energy in contesting the charges. Compared to the settlement offer of $50 and no DMV points, it might seem like a waste; each defendant had to go to court twice: Once to plead not guilty, and once to appear for trial. But it wasn’t a waste, far from it. It educated the court, it educated the sheriff’s department, and it empowered cyclists to shift gears from being victims to being advocates.
In addition to fighting all eleven tickets, the defendants re-calendared their trial dates so that in the event one of them lost, we’d still have the opportunity to appear again. Since traffic court judges rotate, that increased the chance of getting a different judge and it would have forced Deputy Castro to appear eleven separate times. The one trial we did took well over an hour; that’s a bunch of overtime the department would have had to pay.
If you compare the time and money that was spent fruitlessly trying to convince the Palos Verdes Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes city councils that cyclists are traffic with legal rights, with the the time and money that was spent fighting the tickets, which successfully changed personnel and policy, it was the best advocacy imaginable. We spent hundreds of person-hours at city council meetings only to be beaten down and targeted by crazypants trolls. The public records request (publication forthcoming) I did on Robert Chapman, local PVE sillypants and bike hater, only confirmed that traditional political advocacy doesn’t work very well on the hill. Sometimes you have to suit up and go to fuggin’ court, even when it’s “only” traffic court.
Contrast our political advocacy with the effectiveness of fighting bogus tickets. The cops don’t show up, the tickets get dismissed, and everyone realizes it’s a shit-show, including the police, who are now more reticent to waste time writing the stupid citations in the first place. It dawns on everyone that the PV Peninsula has problems that are more significant than 21202a violations and bicycle stop sign tickets.
Unfortunately, there are still far too many cyclists in the South Bay who are willing to pay the reduced fee and get on with their lives. It’s too much pain and effort to re-calendar, go down to court twice, and deal with the whole headache. So last night, at the thank-you dinner that was ostensibly for me, I took the opportunity to thank all of the people who were willing to stand up for themselves and for others as well. And if you don’t mind, I’ll take this small space to thank them again.
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April 17, 2017 § 18 Comments
Part 9: Who is Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr.?
Last year when the bicycle protests in PV Estates got underway, a guy told me to “look out for Robert Chapman.”
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“He’s this anonymous Internet troll guy who lives in PV and is a complete ass.”
I didn’t pay much attention, since “anonymous Internet troll” always equates with “coward” and since I had other concerns than playing Billy Goat Gruff. Before long, though, this link on the Internet came up, and it won’t take you more than a few sentences to suspect what I did: The anonymous troll author of this web site is seriously deranged. I’m no fan of the PV Estates cops, the council, or the city manager, but these vile attacks on wives, ex-wives, and children are sick, and they’re the product of a sick mind.
Is the author of this junk Robert Chapman? I don’t know for sure, but the bizarre language of the web site is eerily reminiscent of the bizarre behavior in the following police reports, all of which were returned as part of a public records request for “Emails or any other documents in paper or electronic format pertaining to the following matters: Activities or complaints regarding or connected with Robert Chapman.”
Remember all those police reports where an anxious bedwetter in PV Estates consumed countless hours of police time to investigate dogs? Tip of the iceberg …
Hundreds and hundreds of pages were returned as a result of my public records request; some of the documentation is truly bizarre, and I’ll be publishing all of it shortly. I hope you like stories about bald, droopy, middle-aged men prancing around in hot tubs.
But my interest in Chapman is actually specific to cycling. Why is the author of the PVE PD hate web site, whether or not it is in fact Robert Chapman, so torqued about the police department?
I’m torqued about the police because they unfairly target cyclists and harass outsiders. But the hate web site’s author lists a slew of reasons that even a cursory inspection reveals as subterfuge. After a bit of reading, a bit of googling, and a whole bunch of time spent reviewing crazy-talk public and court records, I may have unearthed the reason for the author’s venom, and perhaps his hidden-in-plain-sight identity as well.
This matters to cyclists because the same web site that is going after the organization and the individuals who make up the PV Estates police department is the same person who’s going after cyclists. Perhaps a little sunlight will go a long way to disinfecting his rotten attitude and chickenboy attacks. If not, at least people will be able to pin a face and a name on the donkey who is too cowardly to sign his own name.
But first, a continuation of the police reports and the truly dyspeptic personalities involved. If you’re a cyclist, you should ask yourself again: Can a police department that responds to people and complaints like this ever be expected to treat cyclists fairly, when it’s these very bedwetters demanding that the police “enforce” the laws against cyclists?
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January 12, 2017 § 48 Comments
Since the city of Palos Verdes Estates has decided not to install the Bikes May Use Full Lane signage recommended by their traffic safety commission and traffic engineer and supported by hundreds of cyclists, law and common sense, we’ve taken matters into our own hands.
Who knew that you could purchase ten honking, big-ass CalTrans-approved BMUFL signs, the real steel deal, for a mere $362.81? And that you could order them online?
We did, and we did.
Join us this coming weekend, and weekends throughout 2017 as we take to the four ingress/egress points of Palos Verdes Estates and hold up signs to educate motorists about the right of bikes to use the full lane, and to stress that all motorists (including Garrett and Cynthia Unno, Robert Chapman, Michael Kirst, and that Zaragoza lady) need to “CHANGE LANES TO PASS.”
The city council can — and they have — locked the chamber doors to public dissent.
But the streets are still free and we’ll be out there helping to spread the word.