San Francisco Chronicle
Capp Street to get heavier barriers to crimp sex trade
City workers moved to replace metal and wood traffic barriers on Capp Street with concrete ones over the weekend in another effort to slow prostitution on the street known for its sex trade after residents complained about the issues it created outside of their homes.
The new barriers, on Capp between the end of 18th Street and the beginning of 22nd Street, come just over a week after the city installed more temporary plastic gates at the behest of District Nine Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office.
Santiago Lerma, a legislative aide to Ronen, said the new barriers are not permanent, but they “needed to install heavier barricades because the small ones kept getting run over or moved.”
“We anticipate the new ones will be there for about a month,” he said.
The concrete barriers are set up on only one side of each block, allowing residents and emergency vehicles to access homes on Capp from the other direction while impeding the flow of traffic down the length of the street.
Ronen said in a statement when the barriers were first installed that the situation had gotten “out of control” over the past few months.
“This is on a narrow fully residential street where kids and parents are trying to get a good night’s sleep. Music booms all night long, there is bumper to bumper traffic, and much worse, neighbors witness pimps beating sex workers and there are sometimes gunshots. The situation has become extremely unsafe,” she said.
She added that the barriers are one of “a few short term imperfect strategies to address the situation.”
But not everyone agrees the barriers are the right long-term solution. Ronen’s own office, for instance, is pushing for legalization of sex work in the hope it would improve conditions for the sex workers themselves.
“We must have a shortterm, medium-term and long-term strategy to address the oldest profession in the world and protect sex workers, victims of trafficking, and the residents of residential neighborhoods from the ills of this underground industry,” she said.
Other advocates say that decriminalization, rather than full legalization, is the right step forward.
Celestina Pearl, outreach director for the sex worker advocacy organization St. James Infirmary, told The Chronicle that legalization can lead to exploitation of power.
“If sex work is decriminalized, then we can focus more on the real issue, which is consent,” she said.