Picketing piques Realtors


A not-so-neighborly dispute, aired at City Council last week and currently wending its way through the courts, was fueled Friday when one picketed the other’s workplace.

Attorney Sam Birenbaum, who is involved in lawsuits with Realtor Steve Karsh, his Malibu Road neighbor, carried a sign in front of Malibu Realty, the office with which Karsh is affiliated. The sign reportedly said Karsh on one side and racist Realtor on the other. The demonstration was peaceful, and Karsh was not in the office at the time.

Sheriff’s deputies were called and responded that Birenbaum was within his rights as long as he remained on the public street. “There’s no sidewalk there, but we assumed there should be one, and he was walking within 3 feet of the street. We made it clear to him he needed to stay on what we considered public property,” Deputy Mark Seibel said.

Realtor Tom Bates, from the Malibu Realty office, said he strongly objected to the allegation. “We don’t discriminate against anyone. It casts aspersions on everyone in the office. It’s blatantly untrue.”

The Malibu Times has received letters to the editor from both parties after publishing a story in the July 15 edition. Karsh says it is time to set the record straight: That this is not a dispute between neighbors, but one resident’s reluctance to follow the rules, and his penchant for retaliating against all complaints with litigation. Birenbaum’s letter also calls for setting the record straight, taking this newspaper to task for describing his wife, Nidia, as African American. She is a “naturalized citizen of Panama,” he writes, and so should be referred to as Latina.

Meanwhile, Judge Flynn is scheduled to hear several Orders to Show Cause involving CBS, Bank of America, Birenbaum, Karsh and others in Santa Monica Court Dept. G at 9 a.m. July 30. A criminal case filed by the city against the Birenbaums is scheduled for a plea to be heard by Commissioner Adamson July 28 in Malibu.