Prostitution Shifts From Capp to Shotwell

Residents were surveyed to assess whether prostitution has decreased in neighborhood.

En Español.

Residents who had complained about a recent uptick in prostitution on Capp Street were back at last night’s police meeting, and for the most part they were happy because the situation has improved. But the problem does not seem to have disappeared, they said; instead, it has shifted to Shotwell Street.

“Thank you for all the efforts you’ve been doing these past few months; it’s making a difference,” said resident Gregory Dicum before handing Captain Robert Moser a survey he sent out to 217 residents who had signed a petition asking for more police presence.

Of the 217 residents surveyed, only 40 responded, Dicum said, but 23 percent of those residents feel that the situation on Capp Street has improved.

Moser told residents that he’s increased police presence on Capp Street and is happy that the patrols are helping. Mission Station’s vice unit has also increased its undercover operations in the last few weeks, he said, and arrests have gone up by 10 percent in the last month.

Although he doesn’t have official statistics yet, Moser said that his officers have made more than 40 arrests due to prostitution enforcement since last month’s meeting.

Some, however, feel that increasing the number of patrols on Capp hasn’t changed anything.

One resident said that as recently as Monday night she was kept awake from 2 to 5 a.m. by noise related to prostitution — something she’s had to deal with most nights for many years.

“There were at least a dozen out last night, right outside my bedroom window,” the resident said.

After she called police to complain about the noise of men pursuing the prostitutes, a police car patrolled the area. When the car left, someone she didn’t see walked up to the prostitute, hit her, and left.

“I don’t know what to do any more,” the woman said.

The Capp Street resident wants cameras installed. Police can only request surveillance footage after a crime has occurred, Moser explained, so cameras aren’t that helpful.

Uniformed officers patrolling the area are a good deterrent, Moser said, and he will continue to send officers out.

Although he was pleased to hear that most residents are happier with the situation, Moser warned that it is not easy to get rid of prostitution.

Dicum and others in the audience agreed, and some residents noted that the problem now appears to have shifted to Shotwell Street, a block away.

That’s not surprising, Moser said. “When you deal with prostitution, it tends to push that problem out.”

Some residents attending the meeting voiced concern over gang activity in the neighborhood, following a double shooting early in May on Natoma between 14th and 15th streets.

“We’ve worked really hard to make our block safe,” one woman said, adding that an officer told her recently that “it’s heating up right now, keep the kids inside.”

“Keeping my kid inside is not an acceptable answer,” she said.

Moser acknowledged that the area is a known gang corridor and has been for some time. Plainclothes officers are targeting the area, he said.

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  1. Lola

    So, a neighbour with insomnia is upset because a sex worker was too noisy while being assaulted, but did nothing about it? And thinks that arresting the woman is a solution?

    Street prostition has its roots in social problems that need to be addressed in compassionate ways rather than punitive.

    • Andy

      Agreed. Let’s move it to your block while we work on all that.

    • suki

      She couldn’t sleep. It’s not that she has insomnia.

    • Homer

      Reading comprehension is your friend. She is being kept awake by the noise on the street, not by biological insomnia. She states that she called the police & they came. The prostitute was hit after the police left & you are assuming she did not then call the police to report the assault. The article made no mention either way. If I were assuming, which I’m not, I’d assume she did call back to report the assault because she would be a very callous person otherwise.

    • mx

      FYI-Street based prostitution has its roots in making a living. It will never go away ever.
      Its not a social disease you can rid yourselves of with further criminalization. Arresting workers only temporarily puts workers out of work making them more desperate which only further marginalized em by saddling them and the tax payers with more work for the police and social service agencies.
      The best thing to do is provide a well lite place where street based workers can work more safely. Provide some garbage cans.

      Getting arrested for being assaulted is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

  2. Tim

    Actually they have shifted to South Van Ness. I find it hard to comprehend why the Capp and Shotwell groups conveniently fail to mention South Van Ness as being impacted. Go stand in front of the Laundry at 20/South Van and you will see what I am writing about.

    The reason South Van is not mentioned is that Capp and Shotwell St groups are behind the scenes are trying to close their streets to cars.

    • Andy

      Been here 15 years and do not know of any effort to close Capp or Shotwell to cars. Very involved in the neighborhood, never heard of it. What are you basing your comment on?

    • Tim

      I have thirty years to your fifteen. It is based upon multiple residents of these street that I have personally had serious conversations with. I initially dismissed it as nonsense until I started hearing it from different people.

      I personally hole that it is nonsense.

      • Chris

        Folsom,Bryant and Harrison heavy industrial from 20th to Division, in fact more than on South Van Ness.

        They have had their streets calmed and cleaned up. So we don’t want to hear about our street being a commercial strip. Our street deserves traffic calming as well which will help with the traffic which will aid in reducing the problem. Unless of course you think all of us lowlifes on South Van Ness don’t deserve to sleep at night like you do. Sweet dreams

        • Kim

          The laundry being open is for one a nuisance and for two it provides a resting place for the prostitutes as well as parking for the pimps.

          The person who squeaked the laundry in with 24 hours operations did not do any favors for that corner or for the self proclaimed superior residents of Shotwell and Capp. Campos is quoted as saying something to the effect that the mew residents don’t think they are better than anyone else. He might want to rethink that one. In the meantime at least now your agenda os on the table. You don’t care about the community….just about people who are a mirror image of you. Sounds like Orange County not SF.

    • John Hooker

      South Van Ness is largely a commercial strip. Businesses that operate after normal business hours–when prostitution is most visible–are not seriously affected by the presence of prostitutes. If the community can unite to push them all the way to treat, good on ’em. When someone opens up a quaint bistro full of smartphone-wielding yuppies, prostitutes will have difficulty getting customers to pull in for pickups. Shotwell and Capp, however, are mixed use increasingly favoring residential. As far as a person living on Capp or Shotwell is concerned, a prostitute on South Van Ness is a world away. The residents on Capp and Shotwell have a right to sleep without pimps and pimped prostitutes verbally or physically assaulting one another outside their windows. It gets worse from there. I have seen prostitutes conduct their business between parked cars with men who approach them on foot. Between having to explain that to your children and having to clean up the residue isn’t the best use of time at home. There’s a pretty active internet forum that talks about streetwalking prostitutes–they need to find a safe, quiet, out of the way street where they can get buck wild in relative privacy.

    • nh

      This is just not accurate. As a 20th / SVN resident the shotwell folks have been nothing but welcoming and friendly. As to closing the streets to cars, maybe you are confusing all of the construction on shotwell between 19th and 20th for street closures…. Again, as a resident all of the groups I have encountered (with the exception of Supervisor Campos) have been nothing but friendly and have had a desire to build a better community.

  3. Dave

    ¿???? I question a survey that doesn’t even mention South Van Ness other than two symbols on a map. Most of the traffic is on South Van Ness. There are prostitutes walking on South VanNess at all hours of the night. I don’t doubt that they are on Capp and Shotwell but the article would have more credibility if it mentioned all of the streets that the problem exists on.

    It makes me wonder why Shotwell would be described as being one street over unless South Van Ness doesn’t matter.

    • Hélène Goupil Post author

      Dave, thanks for your comment. I’m not trying to say that there isn’t any prostitution on South Van Ness. I just reported what was said at the meeting last night.

      Residents who attended the meeting talked about Capp and Shotwell streets so that’s what I focused on the article.

      If you’re seeing an increase in prostitution on South Van Ness, I’m interested in hearing about it. We’ve been reporting on this issue for a while and want to stay on top of this so your comments help. Thanks!

    • Dave

      Thanks for your reply as well. The problem is that there is a group on Capp and a group on Shotwell and both act as if this is only an issue on their streets which is not the case.

      Sending a survey out ti 217 people out off all of the residents is a good start but not enough for a wide array of information.

      I once asked a resident of Shotwell if I could attend one of the meetings and he asked me if I lived on Shotwell St. When I told him I lived one block away his response was that I should start a group for my street. Pure nonsense…as if the Captain of Mission Station has time to meet with yet another group about the same issue.

      I hope the problem goes away on all of the streets.

      • John Hooker

        They live on Capp and Shotwell. Duh. There’s a difference betwen being concerned about something that’s happening in your area and being concerned about something that directly affects your quality of life. Like a pimp beating a girl outside your window. You might not be able to “fix” the conditions that brought that pimp and that girl together but you probably can deal with the dirtbag johns who did. If your street had a problem with public defecation you’d be on the cops to fix it–and you’d get their attention because you have standing.

        • Chris

          It seems like you have all of the answers about the residents of South Van Ness. South Van is more resident based than moat people think but gets zero respect. You have finally provided me with the answer. You think that because you are a stakeholder that your street deserves to be cleaned while mine is ignored? You also imply that absentee landlords or the people who reside in those homes don’t deserve the same things you wish for.

          Tour comments about South Van being more business oriented also have no bearing. Valencia is mainly business oriented and it has been taken care of as will Mission St.

          Our street even gets the privilege of a 24 hour laundry without any notice from the city. This being owned being owned by the family of a person who says he is improving the Mission. He may be but that laundry is part of the problem.

          I have emailed the District Supervisor about other issues and have received the big blow off. If Capp and Shotwell want to take the attitude that they are better than South Van residents,so be it.

          Our street deserves what the others have received. It is more residential than commercial in spite of how it may be zoned.

          By the way….most of the residents on my block are homeowners.

      • Chris

        South Van has these problems….Duh. sounds like I had better keep my kids off of your street for the tell being though.

        • Kevin

          Mr Hooker.

          So you don’t think that there are any absentee landlords on Capp or Shotwell Sts.

          Can I have a sip of what you are drinking?

          Most rental properties are owned by absentee landlords which usually is not a negative thing.

          You also seem to imply that only homeowners care about quality of life issues like prostitution. I might be going out on a limb, but I am sure that everyone on your block is not a homeowner. Does this mean that the hookers are fine to conduct their business in front of of the rental?

          Your logic is seriously flawed.

          Some of the strategies that work as follows:

          Call the police with detailed information about the johns and pimps including cars.

          Install motion lights.

          Install security cameras.

          Keep a log.

          Do not confront the pimps.

          If the johns know they are being watched….they will move on usually.

          Get neighborhood group and figure out how to screw (no pun intended) your neighbors one block away.

          • Bill

            You commented that South Van Ness is wider and more open to business. Valencia and Mission have way more businesses. Should we move the problem up there?

            Stakeholders? You think that you should get preferential treatment because you have a community group.

            I will go on record and say that South Van Ness does not want the prostitutes either.

    • John Hooker

      Capp and Shotwell are organized residential streets with resident-owners not absentee landlords. They have a larger stake in the neighborhood. SVN? Wider and more oriented to businesses. When people who live on SVN unite to push the prostitutes and the pimps responsible for the violence and the Johns who sideswipe their cars or have sex on their stoops when on foot, another street will have to unite. Don’t blame the Capp/Shotwell residents for taking a stand against sexual exploitation on their doorsteps (EVERY ONE OF THOSE GIRLS IS PIMPED OR DRUG-ADDDICTED OR BOTH). Furthermore I imagine that the Capp & Shotwell residents will be fully willing to share what worked with anyone from SVN who wants to know.

  4. Neighbor

    Why do they congregate in that area? My guess is that a large portion of them take Bart to 24th St. Mission to get there.

    • Robin

      Shotwell are very pretty locks with lots of trees and shadows, stairs, and plenty of places to do the do. It’s really simple. Prostitutes aren’t necessarily getting in the cars to do busieness.

  5. Peter

    If we open up Capp and Shotwell to cars it would decrease congestion on surrounding streets.

  6. Kp

    The neighbors should go to a local hardware store, buy lumber and build small lookout shacks on Capp, Shotwell and South Van Ness streets.

    Demand that the SFPD man these shacks or Vigilanties will do so.

  7. gregory dicum

    Hi everyone. Anyone who lives on SVN or anywhere else in the Mission and wants to be involved in this discussion beyond simply commenting on these forums should send me an email at “” — I don’t know about past neighborhood efforts, but those of us addressing this issue now are eager to have SVN residents involved. In fact, there’s a neighborhood meeting coming up next week that you are welcome to attend. Email me for details.

  8. Robin

    As a 27 year resident, the best way I’ve found to deal with it is gates on the stairs, plus rigging my garden sprinklers to spray a little over the fence onto the sidewalk. I hate wasting water, but on Shotwell between 21st and 22nd, the hookers work a lot less.

  9. walking woman

    I appreciate that the poll asked about “harassment by men looking for prostitutes.” This is the most unsettling aspect of the sex work that is going on for me (the noise is sometimes an issue, but I seem to be off the grid of the actual work taking place).

    Although, knock on wood, I have been lucky to be an unharmed resident of 21st and Treat for 7 years, walking home from Mission street to Treat street has taken its toll on me. (and no, I am not going to get a cab for those few blocks!)

    The slowing down of cars and the intense stares by men really frighten me. And I am clearly *not* dressed for sex work in jeans and a hoodie (I say this based on those I have seen dressed for sex work in the neighborhood, clearly there are sex workers who wear all sorts of clothes).

    So the poll asked about this, and 1/3 of respondents said it was an issue, but no posts have talked about this issue of feeling personally safe.

    Sex work is a tricky business (pun intended, I guess) and everyone has got to make a living… my issue is more with the johns and how they look at all women. And how that effects me personally.

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