Video shows new $250K barricades installed to deter alleged sex work in SF destroyed

Stephanie Sierra Image
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Video shows new $250K barricades in SF destroyed
Video shows newly-installed barricades torn down and destroyed less than one month after being put up along Capp Street to deter alleged sex work.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Video shows newly-installed barricades torn down and destroyed less than one month after being put up along four blocks of Capp Street to deter alleged sex work and trafficking operations.

It's been five months since the city installed the first round of traffic barriers. When those failed, the city installed cement K-rails. But there was concern the cement barriers would impact emergency response times. Last month, the city compromised with steel bollards that collapse, allowing emergency crews to access blocked streets within 60 seconds.

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New collapsible bollards are coming to San Francisco's Capp Street to curb alleged sex work and violence crowding the area.

Data obtained by the I-Team show the process hasn't been cheap. According to the city, the rollout has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars - including the cost of materials, 200 hours of staff time for installation, and the additional maintenance and repair costs to keep the barriers standing.

To put it in perspective, the collapsible steel bollards alone cost more than $250,000.

But, neighbors say many of them are already damaged and in need of repair or replacement.

"They're getting destroyed," said Emily, a neighbor who lives on Capp Street. "People with big cars have been running into them and knocking them down."

The I-Team found many of the bollards on all four blocks of Capp Street -- from 18th to 22nd Street -- have been destroyed, pushed down, or have been torn off the hinges. At the intersection of 22nd St. and Capp St., only one bollard is left standing.

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Danilo Castro manages an apartment building on Capp St. He told the I-Team he was monitoring the video feeds when he saw a person get out of a white Prius, cut the lock, and drive through the intersection at 20th and Capp.

Castro: "It happened so fast... I ran out to put a screw in to hold it up."

Sierra: "How many times has this happened?"

Castro: "Five times."

Sierra: "Five times this week?"

Castro: "Yes."

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Earlier this week surveillance footage captured a large RV parked adjacent to the bollards at the same intersection.

"See the big white van?" Castro said, pointing to the footage. "It was there all night."

The apartment building technician Pablo Munocdecote spotted the van visibly blocking the intersection all night through 2 p.m. Monday.

"You see people walking in and out of it," Munocdecote said. "All night."

RELATED: Video shows street barriers aimed at curbing alleged sex work torn down in SF's 'red-light district'

Castro said he saw women and men enter the truck on Sunday evening.

Sierra: "Did you see women soliciting?"

Castro: "Yes."

Neighbors told the I-Team that warmer weather has brought more traffic back to the Mission District.

"There is still a sex trafficking problem in the Mission that hasn't been dealt with," said Emily, one of the neighbors. "Neighbors see groups of women getting dropped off, whether it's near the bollards or on Shotwell...we're still seeing pimps hiding in the dark monitoring them."

Since the bollards don't appear to be working, neighbors are urging the city for more continued collaboration to assess the situation - highlighting the need for more police.

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

Video shows new street barriers aimed to curb alleged sex work torn up in San Francisco's "red-light district."

"We've worked so hard for this and the city has worked so hard and put money into this to have it completely fail," said Emily.

Santiago Lerma is a legislative aide for Supervisor Hillary Ronen who represents the area.

"Do you agree repairing and replacing the bollards is not a financially sustainable option?" Sierra asked.

"Yes, absolutely. That's why we want to work with SFMTA to figure out a way to install something sustainable," said Lerma.

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"How do you think this rollout could have been handled more effectively?"

"The idea was that this was the solution, so we didn't have to continue pouring money into it. I think we need to really evaluate the neighborhood... having bollards that are more visible and durable... so we don't have to waste another dollar on it," Lerma said.

Neighbors said pictures of the broken bollards were sent to SFMTA nearly a month ago but have yet to be fixed.

The agency told the I-Team they're waiting on the materials to do the repair.

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