SF residents debate effectiveness of barriers installed in hopes to curb sex work on key street

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Sunday, February 12, 2023
SF residents debate effectiveness of barriers put in to curb sex work
San Francisco residents debated the effectiveness of barriers that were installed in hopes to curb sex work on Capp Street.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- All day Saturday, drivers had to make U-turns on Capp Street in San Francisco after new road blocks were set up along the street.

"It will certainly stop the car traffic that's coming though related to the sex workers on our street. So, it might help, which is more than we had before," said Elaine Whitney, who has lived on Capp Street for the past 25 years.

The idea of the road blocks is from San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen. The goal is to deter potential customers from cruising along Capp Street looking for sex workers.

Many residents are fed up that more isn't being done to tackle the issue.

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"It's problematic. Not because of what it is, but because there is this unregulated business on the street. You get a lot of trash, you get a lot of traffic, you get a lot of arguments. Sometimes fights, sometimes girls are being hurt," Whitney said.

One mother, who didn't want to be identified for fear of retaliation, says at least it's a start.

"But it's an emergency solution for now because things were so out of control, that something needs to be done to give some of the families that live on the street some relief," she said.

She said there can be up to 100 women on the street on any night. She added that, based on what she has seen, it's gotten worse just over the past six months.

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"It's like every night pimps and prostitutes come and take our street hostage and neighbors are shut in." Here's what a group of San Francisco residents witness on a nightly basis.

"They are much less dressed than they used to be. They are walking in the streets, which is not the case before, and they appeared drugged," she said. "There are really young women being subjected to this. That's what people are not hearing. People just think this is normal sex work."

Carina Kahane is a newer resident to Capp Street. She pointed out that sex work is complicated and hopes the women involved have more say. And she questions how effective the barriers will be.

"This feels little bit like a band-aid. Here is a stick in the middle of the street. Also, cars have been moving this and driving through. So, it seems like we are really not getting to the root of anything. They will probably just move over a street," Kahane said.

Supervisor Ronen was not available for comment.

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