Hillcrest Business Association Bill Nickels likes to think he is a friendly, tolerant individual. But he’s also a businessman, and as such, his tolerance has its limits. “People like me — normal, decent, hardworking Americans — have fought long and hard to make Hillcrest the kind of neighborhood where people want to live, eat, work, and play. And we are not about to surrender our neighborhood to an objectionable minority that wants to live however it pleases.”
Nickels is referring to the population of homeless who have recently taken up residence in Hillcrest after being pushed out of downtown by what some have called a discriminatory, harassing effort by police to get them out of the popular tourist district. Nickels says he sympathizes with their plight — “Nobody likes to be told they aren’t wanted,” he grants. But he also understands the police's point of view, so much so that he’s contracted with a private security firm to conduct regular sweeps to clear Hillcrest's streets of undesirables.
“Certain sorts of people are just bad for business,” he explains. "The way they dress, the way they smell, even the way they walk and talk — it makes the rest of us uncomfortable. I understand that they’re people and they have rights, but that doesn’t mean they have to go and get up in everybody’s face about it. I know it may sound harsh, but they’ll just have to do their dirty, filthy business somewhere else."