We’re now getting some specifics on the so-called crackdown coming to the Capp Street sex work trade, with an SFMTA map of the barriers that Supervisor Ronen’s office tells us will be “up by Friday,” and SFPD teasing some enforcement details.
The local political brouhaha du jour is the purported crackdown on sex work on Capp Street, set to address a problem that has actually existed on the street for more than 25 years. But the community outrage rose after a Friday KGO report on sex workers, pimps, and johns causing havoc on the street, a report that quotes the district’s supervisor Hillary Ronen saying, “I just had never seen the situation so dangerous and so out of control." Ronen vowed that barriers would be put up on the street to deter motorist johns, and that "The motorcycle unit of the SFPD will be out doing traffic violations."
I laugh at the SFMTA for this project on Capp Street. You do realize the workers will just find somewhere else to do their business.— Akit (@AgentAkit) February 8, 2023
SFMTA’s possible response: Um… okay. pic.twitter.com/PyC7H4sugy
The SFMTA has released a map of how they plan to handle the barricading, first obtained by Mission Local and seen above. Between 18th and 22nd Streets, there will be three “Water-filled barricades with ‘ROAD CLOSED' sign” barriers placed on or near Capp Street, as well as three Dead End signs directly on Capp Street. Ronen’s legislative aide Santiago Lerma tells SFist “We hope to have them up by Friday.”
Lerma adds in a new update from KGO that "They'll be located on the south side of each block so the block will be accessible on the north end to neighbors, but it will not be a through street so somebody entering from the south will not be able to exit from the other end."
“I say who. I say when. I say how much,” said NO WOMAN on Capp Street ever.— San Francisco POA (@SanFranciscoPOA) February 8, 2023
Wake up @HillaryRonen, this isn’t Hollywood! Why are you making it easier for sex traffickers, abusive pimps, and gangs to prey on women and decimate our neighborhoods? https://t.co/eJldqDHCo6 pic.twitter.com/ByBNmAw3Vp
The always-opinionated SF Police Officers Association chimed in with their remarks above, though that is not official SFPD comment (it's their union's comment). KPIX adds some insight into the official law enforcement strategy, noting that "action has already been taken Wednesday night." That doesn’t detail what action, though law enforcement are understandably tight-lipped about their methods. But KPIX does add that "The San Francisco Police Department has now teamed up with Sheriff's deputies to conduct patrols up and down the street."
That time of year again? pic.twitter.com/nsCTTqEfcK— Capp Street Crap (@cappstreetcrap) October 4, 2022
And KTVU has the perspective of an escort who’s worked Capp Street who goes by Queen. The station calls her “a self-described escort,” but “said she's not a sex worker,” and is a 22-year-old single mother struggling to support a young child.
"I want to say I'm sorry. This is from all the women out there. We are sorry because we don't want to cause harm to nobody," Queen told KTVU. "We're just out there to make a living."
So the law enforcement end of this crackdown may or may not have already started, and the barriers are expected to be out by this weekend. So we’ll see if this band-aid solution makes a dent in the issues facing Capp Street.
But the next front in this fight is already becoming visible. KGO adds that “Supervisor Hillary Ronen is backing a plan to create a sanctioned red-light district." That may calm things down on Capp Street itself, but would likely also bring a wave of political fights and culture wars on the local front, and likely, more national media attention obsessing over San Francisco.
Image: Google Street View