The seemingly flimsy street barriers on Capp Street have done well enough at preventing late-night chaos on the street that they’ll be made permanent, though a different design will be utilized.
It has been well documented going back to the late 1990s that there have been some sex workers strolling on Capp Street during nighttime hours. But that issue boiled over publicly this year with a February KGO report detailing the increase in street-level sex work, with one Capp Street resident saying, "We see women walking down the middle of the streets pretty much naked. The line of bumper-to-bumper cars all towards 3 o'clock in the morning. It looks like the Las Vegas Strip."
That led to the idea of placing barriers on Capp Street to keep cars away. Those barriers were up within ten days of the announcement, though the fire department was understandably not thrilled with the concrete barriers that blacked emergency vehicle access.
And so those concrete barriers were replaced with the more flexible barriers seen above. And that image does not do them justice, there are also large planters and sandwich-board barriers too. And apparently there is sentiment that those barriers did the trick, as the Examiner reports Capp Street barriers will be made permanent, though they’ll be a different design than those currently in use.
Barriers went up on Capp Street as a temporary fix to the increasing traffic caused by sex workers in the area.— SF Examiner (@sfexaminer) October 6, 2023
Now, they're being proposed as a permanent fixture on the street despite opposition from locals.https://t.co/UlwOIjIsFi
“We have worked nonstop on street conditions in the Mission,” the district’s Supervisor Hillary Ronen told the Examiner. “We have been employing so many different strategies, not all that work — this one did — so let’s make it permanent.”
But again, these will be different barriers. The Examiner spoke to Ronen’s legislative aide Santiago Lerma, who explained, “What MTA is doing right now is looking at two options that we will then present to the fire department.”
One idea involves bigger, stronger bollards, which the Examiner describes as “similar to ones that dot the Pioneer Monument on Fulton Plaza,” i.e., the statues between the SF Public Library and the Asian Art Museum at Civic Center. Another design concept involves two large planters on the side of either street, and a barrier between them. But that barrier would be designed so most emergency vehicles could get through, though regular cars would not.
SFMTA would have to approve a final proposal, a vote not currently scheduled, though the Examiner reports that it could be scheduled within the next month.
Meanwhile, you may recall the February eyebrow-raiser when Ronen proposed legislation to legalize sex work as another possible fix to Capp Street’s troubles. That seems to have not gone anywhere. The Examiner checked in on the idea in June, and reported that Ronen’s office was “instead focusing on what existing city programs could be used to support the sex worker community.”
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist