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Tax proposed in Hillcrest to address homelessness, cleanliness

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 20:20:52-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Hillcrest residents and business owners could soon be asked to pony up to address some of the area's biggest issues: homelessness and street cleanliness.

If eligible voters approve The Greater Hillcrest Community Benefit District, the area would get a private security patrol and caseworkers for issues involving the homeless, plus regular sidewalk and gutter sweeping, monthly sidewalk steam cleaning, more frequent trash pickup, and other beautification.

The Hillcrest Business Association is pushing the plan because it says the current level of city services is not enough to combat a homeless population that has increased during the pandemic.

Executive Director Benjamin Nicholls says there has been an increase in graffiti, overflowing trash cans, and debris in the gutters.

"There's a lot of homeless people sleeping in doorways, there's a lot of unsightly messes," said Nicholls.

"This program would clean that up, and the businesses are the ones that are asking for it."

Property owners in Hillcrest would be charged based on the size of their residences or businesses and location. For instance, Baja Betty's on University Avenue could see a roughly $2,550 dollar increase on its annual property tax bill, while a condo owner could see an extra $211 tacked on.

"The pandemic has really ramped up this problem, and as much as people are saying why would you want to propose a new tax now, the problem has gotten so much worse now," said Nicholls.

"So, we really need the solution."

A mail-in vote on the proposal could happen mid-year. It would need a 50 percent plus one majority to pass, and ballots would be weighted based on property size.

Nicholls pointed to similar programs in Little Italy, downtown, and La Jolla.

The proposal could raise $1.3 million annually. Nicholls says the money would stay in the Hillcrest area and only 10 percent would go to administration.