Community

Man Experiencing Homelessness Riles Residents

Community members have been shaken by the presence of a man who is experiencing homelessness and has been living near Huntington Middle School and the Crowell Public Library, city officials said this week.
The San Marino Police Department and San Marino Unified School District both told the Tribune that the departments have received a substantial amount of outreach from the general public expressing concerns over the matter.
John Incontro, San Marino’s Chief of Police, said that he has been aware of the situation for “three or four weeks” and that he is looking into finding a solution.

“We are working on this with our city attorney,” said Incontro. “Right now, we have to find a way to balance between people experiencing homelessness and the rights of our community.”
Incontro said that the individual who has recently stirred up San Marino residents’ concerns has previously caused “issues” in South Pasadena and Alhambra. One longtime resident, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, said he witnessed the man using “foul language” in the presence of a family walking to Valentine Elementary School and has observed him trying to engage others in conversation through aggressive or negative behavior.
Linda de la Torre, acting superintendent for the SMUSD, said her office has been actively involved in the matter.
“District administration is aware that a member of the public has intermittently been loitering at Huntington Middle School over the last couple of weeks,” said de la Torre. “Huntington Middle School administration has directed the individual to leave school grounds unless he has school business to address, and has taken action in instances where he may have disturbed staff, students or parents. The district has also contacted the San Marino Police Department each day when this has occurred. The district has been and will continue working with the SMPD to maintain a school environment free from disruption.”
Incontro said the individual “has not been a physical threat to anybody” up to this point, but advised the community to call the San Marino Police Department at (626) 300-0720 if they “feel threatened.” He also said that if a community member is threatened or attacked, they should immediately call 911.
“We want to make sure everyone feels safe,” Incontro said.
He also advised residents that the SMPD needs to speak with community members who may have witnessed a crime.
“There may be a crime that is a misdemeanor and we may need to speak to a victim,” said Incontro. “We need to hear from a witness unless the crime takes place in our presence.”
Incontro also said that officers have posted signs near the schools advising community members of the presence of the potential threat and have created “physical barriers” fashioned to keep unauthorized visitors off campus.
“We do this for everyone,” said Incontro. “This is not a campaign against the individual, it is a measure to protect the public.”

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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