Beverly Hills Residents Say Private Security Ran Charming Homeless Man Out Of Town
Some Beverly Hills residents who have befriended a local homeless man say that he's been driven out of town by city officials and a private security program.
George Saville, a 57-year-old homeless man, is well-liked by several Beverly Hills residents and visitors. He would sleep at a homeless shelter downtown, then ride the bus to Beverly Hills where he shared the news and various tidbits with anyone who wanted to listen. He frequently hung out near Urth Caffé where one customer told the L.A. Times that he was a smart fellow with lots of historical knowledge. Larry King, who told the Times that he had interacted with and donated money to Saville, said, "At best he is charming, at worst he is harmless."
However, city officials are accused of taking steps to drive him out, and James Latta, the city's human services administrator, has a different description of Saville's personality. He claims that Saville is nice to people who give him money, but "very nasty" to those who do not. He also said at a recent hearing that while the city helps homeless people who need their help, Saville does not want it.
The city's private security members are known as "greenshirts" because, as may seem obvious, they wear green shirts. These greenshirts serve as so-called ambassadors and attempt to prevent "aggressive panhandling," which the city has banned. There are 21 of them and the program is managed by a private company called Block by Block. This same company handles similar groups in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, as well as other parts of the U.S. Saville said that they began following him around in October. Then, there was a confrontation between the ambassadors and Saville in February, during which Saville was charged with misdemeanor battery and a hate crime regarding sexual orientation, according to Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino. Hoshino declined to provide any additional details while the case is pending.
Saville claims that these charges are false. He is currently in the hospital after suffering a fall downtown and hitting his head. Meanwhile, the friends he's made in Beverly Hills are trying to find him a place to live and get the charges against him dropped. Beverly Hills, however, has no available housing for the homeless.
Saville said he once worked in aerospace manufacturing and used to coach Little League. He has also done time for drug related offenses, multiple times between 1991 and 2012. He said began going to Beverly Hills about five years ago.
Saville's sister has come to Beverly Hills to ask that the charges against her brother be dropped, but says she can't take him back to Arizona with her because "he's a grown man."
"Being around Skid Row for so many years, going up there seeing people in the mainstream of society that are really existing... it's uplifting. Beverly Hills is beautiful, man," he said.
Beverly Hills Commissioner Jerald Friedman has suggesting putting together a list of local business owners who do not comply with the city's efforts to diminish panhandling.
In a 2013 L.A. Times article, Beverly Hills homeless population was estimated at only 30 or so people. Then, Latta said the reason some homeless people chose the neighborhood was because it was safer than Skid Row or Venice. Homelessness in Los Angeles has grown by 11 percent since over the last year, with a total of 28,464 homeless in Los Angeles and 46,874 in L.A. County.