Stephen Alpert, 61, a Westside political activist, died quietly on Friday, February 23, in his home in Santa Monica, the city he loved.
A founder of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights (SMRR), friends recalled that Alpert’s curmudgeon-like sense of humor often broke the tension in otherwise serious political discussions. He had been ill in recent months and was receiving hospice care. A staunch Democrat, Alpert was an expert at political organizing and was often quoted by the media. He was one of the first sources politicos would call for judgment on prevailing political issues and candidates. For many years, he served as political action vice president of the Santa Monica Democratic Club and was an elected member of the L.A. County Democratic Central Committee. He was honored as 41st Assembly District Democrat of the Year. Alpert worked on wide-ranging issues that affected Santa Monica and consulted on the campaigns of scores of candidates for the Santa Monica School and College boards.
He came to California from the Bronx, New York, in the early 1970s and lived on the famed Venice Canals, where he was quickly heralded on posters for his efforts to thwart the rampant development of Venice. He later moved to Santa Monica where he became a leader in the Tom Hayden-Jane Fonda Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED), whose motto was “Make the Future Ours.”
His work on SMRR resulted in the successful rent control effort of 1979. He also served on SMRR’s steering committee on and off for a quarter of a century. As an employee of the political consulting firm Thom Poffenberger and Associates, he worked on several of the organization’s early candidate campaigns.
Alpert had multitudes of friends, was an avid bird watcher, animal lover and history buff. He is survived by beloved brother Ira M. Alpert; sister-in-law Mary Lou; nephew Stuart; niece Kim Alpert-Popolizio (all of New York); nephew Keith (Boulder, Colorado); four great-nephews and nieces; and five cousins.
A memorial service will be held on March 24 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Anne’s Church, 2000 Colorado Avenue. Contributions may be made in Alpert’s name to St. Anne’s for its efforts to protect low-income tenants in the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica or to SMRR, 2633 Lincoln Boulevard, #513, Santa Monica, CA 90405.