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'Nextdoor' app user blames Hillcrest's gay bars for 'filthy' streets

Numbers on Park Blvd, San Diego.
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One Nextdoor app subscriber has taken to the social media platform to discuss the differences between the cleanliness of Little Italy to that of Hillcrest.

He accuses Hillcrest’s LGBT bars as being the main culprit of urban decay.

Peter Cache posted his observation via his feed which is only visible to subscribers located in that part of town: Northeast Hillcrest.  

In his post Cache says that he recently made a trip to Little Italy and was impressed with the overall beauty of the streets and businesses.

He writes: “They [Little Italy] have dedicated public gathering spaces and plazas with fountains and public art and the overall feel is really clean, upscale and nice.”

Cache then contrasts that with his experience in Hillcrest where he says everything, “looks like a warzone these days. You have empty storefronts with graffiti for wall murals and homeless people literally everywhere.”

The lengthy posting then goes on to blame the LGBT bars in the area which allow smoking, especially, “in front of bars like Rich’s and Flicks or Baja Bettys where the city allows smoking patios to face the street and then the streets to become filthy because of cigarette butts, spilled drinks and puke.”

He then accuses Numbers on Park Boulevard of being an eyesore for years which has done, “nothing to improve that block. Why are bars allowed to have smoking patios that face the street anyway?”

Cache blames councilmember Todd Gloria and the Hillcrest Business Association for what he sees as the problem, before calling Gloria and the HBA a joke.

But it is his contention for “gay bars,” that seems to be his main concern, “It looks like it’s falling apart to me,” Cache writes, “and it seems to me the gay bars are one of the main culprits for making the streets filthy. They profit off their location and then do nothing to improve the neighborhood they make money off of."

SDGLN reached out to Executive Director of The Hillcrest Business Association Ben Nicholls for his response to Mr. Cache’s comments.

He says that the difference between the two districts is not that complex, it all comes down to “development.”

“Over the last twenty years Little Italy, as a community, has embraced change and growth.” Nicholls says, “In the past ten years, Hillcrest has seen almost no growth and chased away developers - and here we are.  Urban customers that used to live in Hillcrest have moved to North Park, East Village and Little Italy. 

“Boutique stores have followed them into new high quality storefronts.”

Nicholls explains that when new developments are embraced by the community, they get the added benefits of revitalized urban landscaping and resources such as sidewalks, streetlamps and foliage.

“Hillcrest's sidewalks are the original sidewalks that were installed over 60 years ago,” Nicholls said. “No wonder they're falling apart!  New development brings resources to the City for new infrastructure and new resources for the Little Italy BID.”

“The only new sidewalks we've seen in Hillcrest in the last ten years are either related to improvements made by property owners (the Atlas building or in front of Mo's) or as a result of HBA advocacy (paid for with parking money).”

However, Nicholls is also very positive about the future of Hillcrest. The HBA is building a new Maintenance Assessment District that he anticipates will, “anticipate new growth planned for in the new Uptown Community Plan.”

He says when the new growth comes, so will more resources for Hillcrest.

 “We've successfully advocated for new growth in the plan, and the City is listening," he said. "The City almost universally adopted our recommendations for the new Uptown Plan."

"Our members want 'Little Italy' style growth.  And the [Nextdoor] poster's question indicates that he wants it too.  What boggles my mind is why so many folks cling to broken down buildings and fear residential development.  All you have to do is look down the hill to see the benefits."

As for Mr. Cache's claims that Hillcrest's gay bars are to blame for urban blight, Nicholls says that is outragious. In fact gay bars and nightclubs have been the heart of the Hillcrest district for ages, and some even pay out of thier own pockets to make repairs to city property.

 "Profitable and fun businesses that create a safe space for people to be be themselves are a critical part of Hillcrest," Nicholls tells SDGLN. "Just like any business, some are run well and others are not." 

"As I mentioned before, by way of example, Urban Mo's paid thousands of dollars to have their entire sidewalk repaired. That's a good thing."

Nicholls adds: "It's easy to point to restaurants and entertainment venues and blame everything on them because they're very visible, but they've been the core of this business district for decades."