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San Francisco residents want license plate reader cameras to deter sex work in Mission District

San Francisco residents living along Capp Street in the Mission District spent much of last year pushing for traffic barriers to break up the flow of drivers in the area, who reportedly were looking to pay for sex.

Months later it appears the barriers have worked. But it now seems the prostitution problem was pushed a few blocks down in the Shotwell Street area.

Residents on Shotwell Street said the issue has gotten out of hand since last year and the narrow street has become overrun by traffic, solicitation, fender benders, and sometimes even threats.

“Everyone has a story of a hit and run,” said a resident, who did not want to be identified due to safety concerns. “Everyone has a story of an altercation.”

The residents was among a group that was recently threatened by a sex worker saying her pimp would come by and shoot them all. One resident also said residents know this kind of activity has happened in the area for years.

But finding used condoms in the street, being threatened, and the volume of traffic are all new.

“There’s literally lines of hundreds of Johns just going around the block, all night long,” said David Quinby, a Shotwell Street resident.

Residents have contacted police about the issues and have drafted a petition, calling on the city to install 16 of its new license plate reader cameras in the neighborhood.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the first batch will start getting installed at major intersections in the city by this spring. Breed is also pushing for Proposition E to pass, which would allow the city to use facial recognition cameras for surveillance.

“And that’s why having surveillance technology is so important,” Breed said. “Because it gives us the ability to pay attention to things that are happening, without necessarily needing to have an officer on every corner.”

The neighborhood petition is addressed to Supervisor Hilary Ronen, who represents the district. Ronen said she just learned about the petition and has questions.

“I need to see those proposals,” she said. “There’s a lot of details. We have to protect people’s privacy. Also, how can you tell if someone’s a John, or just driving their car down the street?”

The neighborhood petition for those license plate reading cameras was launched Sunday. The organizer said he has collected 144 signatures so far.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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