Hillcrest to crack down on unruly homeless

SAN DIEGO — Panhandlers have asked for change from diners in restaurants.

A furniture store owner has found homeless people napping in his showroom and sleeping on his doorstep.

Another shop owner has to constantly clean human waste from the alley behind his business.

“I think it would be safe to say that the business community has lost patience,” Hillcrest Business Association Director Ben Nicholls said.

The association has hired a new security firm that will begin cracking down on troublesome homeless people in the neighborhood beginning Monday.

Santee-based security company City Wide Protection Services will provide day and night patrols around Hillcrest, focusing on people who are disruptive or seen sleeping on private property.

Nicholls acknowledges that the stepped-up effort is not an ideal solution because it could pit neighborhood against neighborhood, causing homeless people to move but without creating a long-term solution,

“It’s frustrating, because we are all just pushing the problem out,” he said.

The move comes at a time when some business owners in Hillcrest say they’ve seen a migration of homeless people from downtown following efforts by the city to clean up that area with weekly sweeps of sidewalk encampments.

“The solution for East Village and downtown is, ‘Let’s push them out,’” Nicholls said. “Well, they did, and now the businesses here are saying, ‘Enough.’”

Nicholls said the new security contract is in response to the requests from businesses owners to deal with some homeless people who have become aggressive.

“I have restaurants who literally have to throw people out because there are homeless people panhandling inside,” he said.

Brian Lovering, owner of Adam and Even on University Avenue, said he’s seen Hillcrest change because of homeless people in the past year and a half.

“Lots of vandalism has been happening,” he said. “Lots of small issues that add up.”

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