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losangelestimes239 karma

Let's start by making clear what Prop. 10 would do. Currently, California has a state law called the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act that prohibits cities and counties from doing three major things with respect to rent control. Local governments are not allowed to:

  • Implement rent control on single-family homes.
  • Take away the right of landlords to charge what they want for apartments after a rent-controlled tenant moves out.
  • Control rents on buildings constructed after 1995. The law also locked into place rules in cities with rent control when Costa-Hawkins passed like 1978 in Los Angeles.

Prop. 10 simply repeals that law, allowing cities and counties to do what they want on rent control.

So to your point, yes it's possible that cities and counties — and organizations trying to add rent control via initiative — would try to extend rent control to single-family homes and/or to new apartment construction. However, proponents of the measure say there's no modern rent control regime that includes new construction and little interest in extending rent control to single-family homes owned by individuals rather than institutional investors.

In short, yes if Prop. 10 passes, cities and counties could do what you're saying. But supporters say it's unlikely to happen. -Liam

losangelestimes216 karma

The credit bureaus. They are private businesses, but you can't opt out of participating if you want a bank account in America. They maintain tons of information about you but they don't seem to care at all about protecting that information, or helping you when the information they have is bad.

When I was finalizing reporting on this story in September, I looked through my credit reports with all three bureaus. All three of them still had incorrect information about me, like the thieves' addresses. I filed disputes with all three of them, and each of their sites was broken in some way. As a consumer, it doesn't feel like they're accountable to anyone.

losangelestimes152 karma

You raise a common objection to rent control, namely that the state should promote affordable housing construction, instead.

Ideally, that would be a more sound way to address housing issues from an economic perspective.

However, there are few problems with that. First, affordable housing construction in California is super expensive. A recent, well-founded analysis estimated that to simply house the most rent-burdened Californians, it could cost at least $10 billion more a year than what the state spends now.

Second, there's a lot of research — and recent experience with homeless housing in LA bears this out — that residents push back strong against low-income housing development in their communities making it more difficult for new homes to be built.


losangelestimes129 karma

J. Esco was working as a computer technician in Florida when Fereidoun “Prince Fred” Khalilian hired him for a repair job in 2009.

He was soon working full time for Khalilian. His lavish lifestyle impressed Esco. His boss ran in celebrity circles; he had helped open Paris Hilton’s short-lived nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

For a year, Esco ran IT for Khalilian’s robocall company while helping his boss launch a social media music company. That came to an abrupt end when federal agents raided Khalilian’s office in 2010, resulting in a 2010 Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging that Khalilian misrepresented car warranties to unsuspecting customers. Khalilian and his company were ordered to pay a $4.2-million judgment in the case.

After the raid, the company shut down and Esco was out of work.

Esco said his former boss promised to help him get back on his feet. “In my mind I was like, ‘F— this, I’ll never talk to this guy again.’”

A few years later, Esco moved to Los Angeles to try his hand in the entertainment industry. He cobbled together a living in Hollywood, but he was always on the lookout for the big project that might catapult him into more marquee work.

Then, he reconnected with Khalilian on set, according to Esco. As they spoke, Esco had an idea. He could make a documentary about his onetime boss — a high-rolling socialite with a shadowy background.

Esco said he went home and Googled Khalilian and found articles about scandals involving the businessman spanning nearly two decades, with allegations including battery, extortion and “threats of mutilation, death and threats to family.”

Khalilian has defended himself in court, arguing that allegations made against him in lawsuits and criminal cases were false. He has been ordered to pay settlements in some cases and pleaded no contest to lesser charges in criminal proceedings.

Esco thought the documentary could be his big break, but only if he could get Khalilian to participate. He came up with an unorthodox solution in the practice of documentary film: He would lie to his subject. To gain Khalilian’s trust, Esco promised the film would cast him in a favorable light.

Khalilian explained his extravagant wealth by telling people he was an Arab prince — though his national origin changed depending on whom he was talking to, prosecutors and family said.

It wasn’t until about a decade ago that he began referring to himself as “Prince Fred,” Khalilian’s first cousin Paradis Khalilian told The Times. She said he has no royalty background.

His background is Persian, not Arabic, said his cousin. He was born in Iran and moved to Turkey when he was 12, then Germany when he was 13 and eventually the United States when he turned 18, she said.

Esco spent four days interviewing Khalilian, gathering his subject’s version of his life story. Khalilian seemed more interested in a Kardashian-style reality show than a documentary, Esco said.

“He wanted me to ask him as he got out of the car at the club, ‘How’d you lose so much weight?’ ” Esco said.

The ruse could go on only so long. A source whom Esco approached about an interview tipped off Khalilian, Esco said. Now he knew the real direction of the film — and he wasn’t happy about it.

Mike Sherwood, who worked as the head of Khalilian’s security team, said he had no plans to resort to violence when he traveled to Los Angeles to speak with Esco — he hoped to talk the filmmaker out of making the documentary.

Esco showed Sherwood parts of the documentary about Khalilian and asked if the bodyguard would be open to an interview for the project, Esco said.

Sherwood agreed and was filmed in June 2022, though he continued to work for Khalilian. He said he spoke of the “positive and negative” sides of Khalilian in his interview and informed his employer that he had talked with Esco.

For a time, Khalilian appeared less bothered by Esco, Sherwood said. Then Esco began making calls to his former boss.

He started to goad Khalilian, calling from spoofed numbers and saying nothing other than “habibi” — an affectionate address in Arabic — or “Fred,” and hoping that Khalilian would lose his temper, prosecutors said. Esco would record the calls. He called Khalilian about 20 times in early March 2023, according to prosecutors.

Esco said he hoped Khalilian might make threats that he could record and use in the documentary. And Khalilian did, according to the criminal complaint and audio recordings reviewed by The Times.

“When I’m done with you, I’m going to cut each one of your f—ing fingers off,” Khalilian said on one recorded call on March 8, according to a transcript in the complaint. “I’m going to f— you up, b—. I’m going to have your f—ing head.”

In March, Khalilian solicited Sherwood to have Esco killed for $20,000, a federal agent wrote in the criminal complaint.

When Esco woke up on March 17, he saw he had missed a text from Sherwood: “Call me when you can.” When Esco called back, Sherwood said, he filled him in on the whole arrangement.

The two hatched a plan so crazy it just might work: a faked murder, more high school film project than Hollywood motion picture. Esco’s girlfriend would take a photo of the crime scene. Then they would send the photo to Sherwood, who would turn it over to Khalilian as proof Esco was dead.

Sherwood passed along one of the images of the staged killing to Khalilian, according to prosecutors. He told Khalilian that he had hired a group of Mexicans to carry out the murder and that they buried Esco in a warehouse in Los Angeles, according to Sherwood and prosecutors. Within a minute, Khalilian sent $3,000 to Sherwood on Cash App from the account @$PrinceFredKhalilian, prosecutors said. All in all, Khalilian paid Sherwood a total of $12,500 for the faked killing, according to the criminal complaint.

At this point, Esco and Sherwood still had not contacted law enforcement. Sherwood wanted to wait longer to go, he said. He believed Esco was in no real danger because Khalilian thought he was dead — and Sherwood hoped to continue collecting the payment for the killing, he said.

Instead, Esco went to The Times with his story. He then went to the FBI. The agents were interested. But before making an arrest, they wanted Khalilian to admit he had ordered a killing, Sherwood said.

The FBI told him to stay off the grid, Esco said. Meanwhile, the FBI was keeping Sherwood busy. Sherwood recorded calls between himself and Khalilian and sent evidence of the cash payments from his phone, according to the complaint. He had to screen-shot all of his communications with Khalilian and share them with agents, Sherwood said.

On June 21, Sherwood opened the door of his Porsche Macan and prepared to put on the most important performance of his life.

Khalilian got into the car and the two men went for a drive around Las Vegas. Federal agents had slipped a camera into the Dodgers hat on the dashboard, feeding sound and video directly to law enforcement, Sherwood said.

He showed Khalilian the belongings of Esco the FBI had given him — Esco’s passport, IDs, his Global Entry pass.The belongings were further evidence, along with the staged photo, for Khalilian that the deed had been done.

As they sat in the car, Khalilian opened up, Sherwood said.

“If I didn’t pay you to do it, I was going to kill him myself,” Khalilian said, according to Sherwood.

The FBI would not share its recording of the conversation, but it did not dispute Sherwood’s retelling.

Agents surrounded the two and arrested Khalilian. Prosecutors charged him with murder for hire for the plot to kill Esco and the payments he made to Sherwood. A federal magistrate judge in Nevada ordered Khalilian held without bond on June 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

“Mr. Khalilian maintains his innocence and looks forward to defending himself in court,” said his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld. “The actions of the government witnesses surely need to be examined; however, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time.”

His attorneys argued in court that Khalilian should be released pretrial.

“While counsel understands that the charges are serious and that the government will assert that it has evidence in support of the charges, all remaining factors weigh strongly in favor of Mr. Khalilian being released,” Chesnoff wrote.

His attorneys also said Khalilian has no felony criminal history and has “tremendous family support.”

losangelestimes119 karma

The idea is to set a cut off date so as not to discourage new housing construction. And under the Costa-Hawkins Act, enacted in 1995, the city is barred by law from moving that date up. If Prop 10 passes, I would say there is a very good chance L.A. would do just that. --Andrew