BEVERLY HILLS—Beverly Hills residents are accusing city officials of driving a local, well-liked homeless man out of town, but they argue he was an “aggressive panhandler.”
George Saville, 57, is a transient familiar to the Beverly Hills region, and frequent visitor to Urth Caffé. Saville established a rapport with the café’s locals, sharing with them his vast knowledge of news, entertainment and sports.
He befriended celebrities who were similarly fond of his character, like actor Larry King, who eats breakfast nearby and slipped Saville cash on occasion, telling the LA Times, “At best he is charming, at worst he is harmless.”
Beverly Hills Human Services Administrator, James Latte described Saville as very nice to those who gave him money, but “very nasty” to those who did not.
City-funded private patrol, or “greenshirts,” is a group of 21 “ambassadors” that aim to prevent aggressive panhandling, which the city has recently banned, and friends of Saville allege that they deliberately ran him out of town.
Saville claims they’ve been following him around since October and charged him with two bogus misdemeanors to run him out of town, according to the Los Angeles Times. The charges stem from a confrontation Saville had with an ambassador in February resulting in two charges: misdemeanor battery and a hate crime.
Commissioner Jerald Friedman suggested calling public attention to merchants who refuse to support the city’s efforts in discouraging panhandlers.
“I don’t want to call it a shame list, but a list of owners who are not complying with the wishes or desires of the city to improve the environment of the streets,” said Friedman. “If I saw that I might not go to that store.”
Saville suffered head injuries during a fall recently and required hospitalization; his sister, Sylvia Saville Flaherty, traveled from Tucson, AZ to oversee his care, and asked the Beverly Hills City Council to have the criminal case dropped.
Vice Mayor Nancy H. Krasne asked Flaherty if she would take Saville with her to Arizona, but Flaherty denied, telling the Los Angeles Times, “I can’t be responsible for him. He’s a grown man.”
Saville worked in aerospace manufacturing for years and used to coach Little League; he has served time for drug related offenses between 1991 and 2012. Saville is recuperating from his injuries.