Hillcrest businesses hire private security to clamp down on unruly homeless
SAN DIEGO – Some Hillcrest businesses are taking matters into their own hands and hiring private security for added protection against the latest surge of what they call unruly homeless.
Hillcrest is known for its diversity and inclusiveness. But business owners in the area say a migration of homeless to the area is creating a new problem.
Bob Ray owns Ray’s Tennis on University. “It’s become a little worse bit worse over the years. Probably the population is greater. I understand they got moved from downtown as well.”
So the Hillcrest Business Association hired a security company that provides day and night patrols. The businesses are making sacrifices to pay for these officers. They’ve cancelled free outdoor movie nights and cut advertising from the Farmer’s Market. It’s up to these private officers to escort the homeless from the area.
But homeless advocate Michael McConnell says that doesn’t solve the problem.
“The newly hired security here in Hillcrest, simply just moved somebody from in front of a building. That person just went in front of someone else’s building. Now that business owner is gonna get upset.”
McConnell says the city of San Diego and Hillcrest are taking the wrong approach. He says the homeless need help from outreach teams.
“People who have multi-disciplinary teams who can work with people on mental health and other issues to try to coax those people into the solution which is getting them in to housing with supportive services. That will take people off the streets.”
Back at Ray’s Tennis, owner Bob Ray says this is at least a start. He’s been here for 37 years. And he says because of this problem he starts his day differently now. He knows every morning he’ll have to do some storefront cleaning because the homeless sleep there the night before.
“Unfortunately some of them don’t respect the property. They’ll trash it. They don’t have any place to go to the bathroom so they will go to the bathroom on my property.”
The Hillcrest Business Association will spend about 80-thousand dollars a year for daily patrols.
This is part of City Councilman Todd Gloria’s district. He says he will ask for funding to re-instate outreach programs like the Alpha Project back into the area.