A long-running concern over the world’s oldest profession has Capp Street residents saying their street is “a sanctioned red-light district,” and apparently street barriers will be going up on a four-block stretch of Capp.
It is hardly a new complaint that there are maybe a few sex workers strolling Capp Street on weekend evenings, and this comes with some risks. We dug up a Chronicle article from 1997 calling Capp Street a “Devil's Zone” and “where slain hookers worked,” which noted “It was on Capp Street that a 19- year-old prostitute from Las Vegas was picked up by a man on October 4, beaten repeatedly with a hammer and dumped off Pier 9 into the Bay.”
A full 25 years later, Mission Local reported this past October that SFPD was vowing a sex-work crackdown on Capp Street as part of DA Brooke Jenkins’s “new sheriff in town” PR blitz. But residents tell KGO “it's gotten worse in the last five months,” in their report on Capp Street residents claiming there's a huge uptick of alleged sex workers strolling Capp Street.
It’s hard to argue with these claims given the evidence in the video above, taken from a Capp Street window and showing provocatively dressed women smack-dab in the middle of the street. Neighbors complain of frequent gunshots and fights, and hear complaints from the women themselves that they don’t want to be there, but are being forced. The proliferation of the sex workers, and, well, cars driving very slowly for one reason or another, has created an environment of other related crimes that have neighbors saying “We have a sanctioned red-light district on Capp Street."
“Somebody had gone in to steal things from our house," one resident identifying herself as Ana told KGO."There were people having sex on the stairs going up to my front door around the same time of this. So it's not that the prostitutes are breaking into houses. It's the environment that this creates.”
They are going to shut down Capp?!— Capp Street Crap (@cappstreetcrap) February 3, 2023
“Next week we are going to put up barricades on Capp Street between 22nd and 18th street. It will close off the street through traffic but the neighbors who live on the street will be able to get in through the street," said Supervisor Ronen. https://t.co/jPW6koPzm5
The district’s supervisor Hillary Ronen tells KGO "I just had never seen the situation so dangerous and so out of control." So now, a proposed new solution is coming — barricades will be placed on Capp Street.
"Next week we are going to put up barricades on Capp Street between 22nd and 18th Street,” Ronen told KGO. “It will close off the street through traffic but the neighbors who live on the street will be able to get in through the street." She added, "The motorcycle unit of the SFPD will be out doing traffic violations."
It sounds as if this will be more of a Slow Streets arrangement than a proper barricading. SFist has reached out to Sup. Ronen’s office for clarification on what days and times the barriers are scheduled to be in place, and we’ll update this post with any response.
With former DA Chesa Boudin no longer around to blame, SFPD's Mission Station Captain. Gavin McEachern complains to KGO that state Senator’s Scott Wiener's new bill to repeal discriminatory loitering laws that target sex workers is now the problem. (That bill did not take effect, though, until this past January 1.) Most residents say it’s more likely that the implementation of Shotwell as a Slow Street has driven more activity to this area.
So if Slow Street barriers drove this scene off Shotwell Street, maybe that will work work on Capp Street too. But this is a decades-old problem in the neighborhood, and years and years’ worth of so-called crackdowns have frankly been pretty ineffective at making a dent.
Image: Google Street View