Poop scandal: San Marino residents steaming over mayor's dog dung toss
There’s a foul smell of scandal in the affluent city of San Marino.
Residents are demanding the resignation of Mayor Dennis Kneier after a security camera caught Kneier tossing what appears to be a bag of dog poop onto the property of Philip Lao.
San Marino police cited Kneier for littering, which carries a fine of up to $1,000, according to police officials.
Kneier apologized for his actions in a personal letter to Lao.
In a city council meeting, the mayor said, “I’m embarrassed about how it affects me and my family and my reputation. And because it’s been such widespread news coverage, how it affects possibly the image of San Marino, and that I really regret.”
Though no other allegations have been officially filed, Lao told the city council that he plans to sue the city and the mayor for harassment.
The surveillance footage of the mayor's actions has gone viral:
But the dark shadow known to some as “poopgate” emphasizes a hot-topic of debate within the San Marino community.
"The issue is dog poo or litter on your front lawn," said long-time resident Meeta Bindra. "People are not responsible, and they need to tighten requirements and make sure [laws] are followed. The incident with the mayor just highlights it."
The median household income is $124,000, according to city planning statistics, 44 percent higher than that of Los Angeles County.
A drive through the neighborhood showcases expansive properties where rolling hills of manicured lawns and million-dollar homes adorn one of the wealthiest suburbs in Los Angeles County. The average home sale is $1.6 million, higher than pre-recession prices.
In 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that out of the 20 Southland communities with the richest property values, San Marino was the only one whose home prices have continued to improve every year.
With an ethnic makeup of 41 percent white and 54 percent Asian, this tight-knit community has faced criticism for its exclusivity.
"You can't just come and park here and do whatever you want," said George Nuevo, a resident of neighboring San Gabriel. Nuevo was playing soccer with his daughter at San Marino's Lacy Park, which is open to non-residents of San Marino during designated hours on weekdays.