SF Capp St. sex worker issue improved but drivers blocking barriers are now creating hazards

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, April 27, 2024
SF sex worker issue curbed but illegal parking creates new hazards
The San Francisco Capp Street sex worker issue has improved, but now drivers who are blocking barriers are creating hazards for the community.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One problem solved, but another created.

The barriers installed to keep sex workers off Capp Street in San Francisco's Mission District did their job.

However, all the cars parked behind the barriers are now the problem for residents and first responders.

Yellow barriers, or bollards, changed San Francisco's Capp Street from a prostitution hotspot to a clean street.

RELATED: Barriers at San Francisco's Capp St. forces alleged sex work to new area, report says

"I think it works. Also it's much cleaner," said Amadeo Gonzalez, owner of Balompie Café.

Gonzalez has witnessed the transition his street had over the last year.

In February of 2023, we broke the news of Capp Street residents pleading for the city to intervene after alleged sex workers took over their neighborhood.

That led to the installation of barriers to block traffic and illegal activity from 18th to 22nd streets.

RELATED: New barriers to deter alleged sex work on SF's Capp St. may be permanent. Here are the two options

There are two replacements to the barriers in the Mission District being considered that may be permanently installed to close four blocks of the neighborhood if approved by the SFMTA commission.

Luz Pena: "Is there still prostitution happening here at night?"

Amadeo Gonzalez: "Yes, there is but very minimal. Very Minimal. They are mostly on Folsom Street."

Illegal parking behind the barriers is leading to new issues in the area. Xan Devoss, owner of Fox and Lion Bread, sees it happen from her business every day.

"People park there because it's a good parking spot, but then they are getting ticketed. So that has been a big problem," Devoss said. "You are going to get a ticket, even though there are no 'No Parking' signs."

San Francisco Fire Captain Justin Schorr is concerned vehicles using the barriers as a parking area are creating a hazard for emergencies.

RELATED: Video shows new $250K barricades installed to deter alleged sex work 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.

"With the bollards that are installed, fire apparatus and ambulances cannot pass through and drive straight through Capp Street. We are required to drive up a block and come back down. The more vehicles there are blocking the roadway, the more difficult it is for us to get emergency vehicles in there," Schorr said.

Recently, SFMTA announced that its ticketing efforts will increase throughout the city. Regarding Capp Street, the agency said:

"We work with our partners, SFPD, SFFD, DPW, the Supervisor's Office, Mayor's Office, and neighborhood stakeholders to mitigate the concerns. We have coordinated enforcement in the area, which includes Capp St., and vehicles who are not in compliance are routinely cited and towed for parking violations. The public can also call 3-1-1 if they see an illegally parked vehicle to request enforcement."

Our ABC7 News data team found that since June 2023, when the barricades were installed, about 1,200 parking citations were given out on Capp between 18th and 22nd streets. Some residents say those tickets are not doing much. Gonzalez said city workers asked him to intervene.

RELATED: Here's what's coming to San Francisco's Capp St. to curb alleged sex work, violence

"They come to me and they ask me many times that I can be police man for them, but I cannot do that," Gonzalez said.

For many residents, the barriers are an answer to their plea. But now SF Fire is concerned that drivers blocking them are putting lives at risk. They are asking those drivers to move.

"We need to be able to get through. What happens if we can't get through?" Schorr said.

In case of an emergency, SF Fire said it is able to disable the barriers but cars blocking them prohibits it from doing that.

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