A close-up of "Capp" written on the sidewalk.
Photo by Molly Oleson

Frustration over chronic problems of prostitution, violence and trash-ridden streets — and the perceived lack of an effective official response — bubbled over at a meeting of the Central Mission Neighborhood Watch with District 9 Supervisor David Campos.

Campos encouraged residents to continue relying on city services that disappoint, even as quality-of-life issues persist.

“The thing I don’t understand is, [prostitution has] been here for 40 years. It’s not tolerated in Noe Valley,” said Don Henderson, a marketing professional who has lived in the neighborhood for almost four years.

Andy Oglesey, head of the watch group, told Campos, “The conclusion … we’ve all come to is that the pimps, prostitutes and johns are not from the Mission,” but that the Mission has experienced an uptick in prostitution due to increased enforcement in the Tenderloin and Oakland this year.

“This neighborhood is one of the top areas for prostitution in the Bay Area,” said Gregory Dicum, who is in charge of the group’s crime committee.

The watch group, an offshoot of San Francisco Safety Awareness for Everyone (SF SAFE), gathered at the Mission Neighborhood Center Tuesday night to vent about the Mission’s chronic quality-of-life issues. Campos, a featured guest at the monthly meeting, heard about members’ unhappiness over the flourishing local sex trade, over which authorities seem to have little or no control. The recently reelected supervisor insisted they meet with other city officials who can help.

Campos addressed the crowd of about 30 residents, many of whom have lived in the Mission for years, if not decades. The supervisor said his office has tried to address public safety by working with the police department’s Capt. Robert Moser to increase the staffing at Mission Station.

Campos explained that the department’s current shortage of officers is due to the number of retirees over the last three years.  New recruits are being trained, he said, but will not be on the job for at least two more years.

Many of those new officers will need to come to the Mission to combat the chronic quality-of-life issues, Campos said. Currently Moser has approximately 125 officers on hand, but that’s not enough, he said.

Increasing the number of officers is only one component to helping alleviate gang-related crime, Campos said. Increasing the number of violence prevention workers, establishing more partnerships with former gang members and boosting community involvement are also important.

“There was a time when violence prevention workers and police were not working together. That is no longer the case,” Campos said.

Campos repeatedly emphasized that his office would continue to make public safety a top priority, assuring residents that when issues are brought to the attention of his office he will continue to notify Moser.

“I am here to listen,”  he said.

Campos said he would set up a meeting with the Department of Public Works, PG&E, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Muni to figure out who is responsible for the various issues in the neighborhood, such as crime, overgrown trees and shrubbery, broken street lamps and the dilapidated Jose Coronado Park.

The supervisor reiterated that citizens who are upset about the sex trade should set up a meeting with Moser, and that trash on the streets is the city’s problem. But the watch group plans to take the trash issue into its own hands by gathering at 9 a.m. this Saturday at Jose Coronado Park to walk through the neighborhood and clean the streets.

“There are a lot of things you need to try,” Campos said, suggesting an increase in police officer foot patrols, more street lighting, traffic calming and enforcement.

Campos vowed he would return to meet with the group after conferring with other city officials to find potential solutions. “I can sense the frustration that’s here,” he said.  “I want to make sure we get to actual results.”

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  1. I think Marco is right that it’s both naive and pretentious for people to move into a neighborhood that has a long history of this social climate, and start demanding that the neighborhood change to meet their desires. This is a result of gentrification, the same thing that’s causing rents to skyrocket and forcing out the family businesses that have been there for decades, so someone can install another damn hipster coffee shop/art boutique. The conditions that gave the neighborhood the character that made it initially attractive are now being demonized, because aging non-natives who have moved in now have more money and want the neighborhood to be like a “family-friendly” suburb where they can raise their kids. You can’t have it both ways. The Mission has problems. It’s also fantastic. While drugs, prostitution, gangs and crime are horrible on the face of it, I hope to not see the Mission change too much. I would hate to see it Disneyfied, like Manhattan. If you can’t deal with it, the realistic choice is for you to move, not to change the nature of an entire area of the City. I used to live in the Tenderloin. I loved it, but got tired of the late-night insanity. So I moved. Simple as that, accept that you live in an urban area, and that you have to deal with the conditions that exist there.

  2. Melissa, keep up the righteous commentary. Don’t let the clueless “sweep social problems under the rug” set get you down.

    If someone doesn’t like seeing or living near the problems of our social system, live somewhere else, or, better yet, work towards a society that would address the needs of those deemed excess to the requirements of capitalism.

    1. Well said and thanks Melissa for your comments. I want to say that the “dilapidated” Jose Coronado park has become that way (again) because rec and park do not choose to staff the park with a rec director, who could open the building which would allow access to the bathrooms. I used to take my son there in the mid-90’s when one corner was used for a urinal and there were often needles and condoms sprinkled around. There was a big renovation, nice building with activities etc., subsequent defunding, and now we’re back to the square one of the corner urinal. The priority of rec and park is constructing and privatizing parks, not maintaining and staffing them in every community, not just in wealthy areas of the city.

  3. While we are complaining about all of the crimes of poverty and throwing them all in jail, why don’t we send all of the poor folk to restricted ghettos and take over the Mission so we can have a real life candy land. Yey!!

    1. Honey, poverty has NOTHING to do with allowing garbage and hookers and crime in an area. It’s called having some “civic pride”. I suggest you embrace that concept.

  4. Campos could give two f*cks about this problem….he just passes the responsibility to others! All talk, no action. Not sure when you people are going to learn…..

    Another progressive (Adachi) is currently trying to kill a program to eliminate inebriated folks on the streets that is actually working.

    THANK PROGRESSIVES for making your job relevant by making this city a s*ithole!

    1. Actually, I consider myself a progressive and still think we should prosecute these QOL crimes. In the case of prostitution, the very best reason is that these women are being cruelly exploited every night. If you’ve ever spoken to these girls (and most ARE girls), they will tell you stories that would make William Bourroughs shudder. They are not “sex workers” freely choosing this profession – they are slaves being controlled by drugs and exploited by the worst of humanity.

      1. In that case why don’t we legalize prostitution so we can regulate it?

        The world’s oldest profession isn’t going away just because a couple of arrests are made. If you think arrests will work, I invite you to look at centuries of historical records showing the efficacy of that approach.

        1. The problem is not prostitution, it is the commercialization of our residential neighborhood streets, especially “after hours.”

          The problem would be as bad if people were selling stuff other than sex in front of people’s houses at all hours of the night.

          1. In that case, the ONLY solution is to legalize prostitution. It’s perfectly legal for someone to stand out on the street. Unless what they’re going can be classified as a commerical activity, there’s no legal reason to make them move.

  5. The district supervisor does not control the SFPD< the Mayor does.

    Granted, the SFPD has a full plate of work to do and limited resources with which to do it. Left to their own devices, I'm not sure that the SFPD has the confidence of residents and taxpayers that they're making the right choices on what enforcement to prioritize. Their come back is always to increase staffing rather than to prioritize the use of existing staff in accordance with the political will of the taxpayers. We cannot afford that right now.

    What we're going to need is a political prioritization of police enforcement resources according to the will of the neighborhoods in which these cops operate. Anything else allows the SFPD to call their own work plan with absolutely no connection to the community or accountability over time as to whether they are making the right choices. Ross Mirkarimi had to override Gavin Newsom's veto to get these overpaid cops out of their cruisers and onto the sidewalks, they caterwauled about civilian interference, they conspired to wreck his political career as payback, but they ended up complying and the sky did not fall.

    Until the cops are placed firmly under civilian control and until the politics that drive their enforcement priorities originate from the communities, then we are going to continue to see Ed Lee's SFPD "containing" all sorts of "undesirables," drug, alcohol, mental illness, prostitution, in the crescent that runs from the TL through SOMA into the North Mission.

    1. I agree with the spirit and content of this post. However, Mirkarimi wrecked his own political career. He was elected Sheriff despite opposition from the cops. The cops didn’t make him grab his wife’s arm and try to avert responsibility for his actions.

      That said, I didn’t support Ed Lee’s removing Mirkarimi from office and am indifferent about a recall.

      1. Gascon was Chief when Ross passed foot patrols over Newsom’s POA-supported veto. It is the POA which “runs” law enforcement in this city, and they will do everything they can to keep San Francisco civilians from having anything to do with their department, whether it is resisting political control over enforcement priorities or throwing their resources at taking down an opposing politician.

        Ross owns his conduct, but similar conduct rarely raises an eye from law enforcement. Gascon has allowed over 6000 DV cases to lapse. If arm bruising or turning a minivan around are crimes, then we’d best be building a slew of prison cells to house the newly minted criminals.

        The only way to get the cops doing our bidding, to keep us safe is for us to unite to make sure that the cops get the kind of political hand-holding that they clearly need.

    2. I went to hear Kamala Harris once at the Commonwealth Club. She spoke to this issue in this neighborhood (24xMission, 16 & Mission, and the 6th Street corridor (Mid-Market). In short, those areas were deemed as the receptacles for the riff-raff. It’s a way to keep the broken, marginalized, and petty criminals in a contained area, away from the fancier parts of the city. The cops can watch at a distance but without pushing them on out or locking them up.

      I belonged for a short time to a Neighborhood Watch this year. They mean well but the reality is what they want is a unreasonable security: a suburban feel of gated communities, lights shining bright til the sun comes up and calling the cops on suspicious activity (namely colored people walking through the neighborhood) or whenever someone is looking for cans in the recycle bins… that’s stealing.

  6. As Mr. Campos stated… ““I am here to listen.” That is all he is doing… there has be no ‘doing’ of anything constructive to help the Mission District! And now that the election is past he can sit back and relax and enjoy the day… get used to it, Mr. Campos is going to do nothing to clean up the gang/prostitution problems in our neighborhood.

  7. There have been hookers along Capp St. for as long as I can remember, and to move into a THE neighborhood well known for hookers and drug dealers and then wonder why they’re there seems a bit naive on the part of these new residents. There have never been hookers in Noe Valley, and that has not changed. That being said, if residents aren’t happy with “quality of life” crimes, they should not be voting for the progressive block, of which Campos is a prominent member, because the progressive do not believe in police enforcement of quality of life crimes, or surveillance cameras, or criminalization of prostitution.

    Apart from the issue of lack of staffing, the police in San Francisco have a very tough job, dealing with an element of the population (progressives among them), and DAs (most famously Kamala Harris) who rendered the police virtually impotent by refusing to prosecute (i.e., “criminalize”) a whole slew of crimes — from gang activity by “undocumented immigrants” (Edwin Ramos) to graffiti, to open container laws and prostitution.

    Campos may be nodding his head in agreement at these meetings, but in reality he is merely passing the buck, for his political agenda is quite far from one that supports enforcement against quality of life crimes.

    1. “There have never been hookers in Noe Valley, and that has not changed.”

      I believe you mean, “there have never been *streetwalkers* in Noe Valley” — although I doubt that’s strictly true, either.

        1. In this post, litter and urine do not seem to be the subject. It is more pointed at prostitution and drug sells. Both of these crimes of poverty have a very long history that jail and fines have never been able to fix or make them go away. Many complaints and very little solutions. I say both need to be legalized so that there can be more regulations. I’m sorry but this is not going away and will only get worse as long as it is hidden and swept under the carpet.

      1. Yes Melissa — I think you are proving my argument and I would bet that you label yourself a “progressive” if that’s what you think — Just because one is poor does not mean one has to drink in public, graffiti, etch store windows, pass out drunk on the sidewalk.

        1. I do not label myself. I have grown up poor. With close friends and family being prostitutes, drug dealers, alcoholics, addicts, mentaly ill, advocates, counselors, nurses, and officers. Frustrated and sadened is how I feel but not who I am. These are people not things to be labeled and stored away.

          1. Marco, I do think this is working and know some very caring and empathetic people working on this. I hope it can stay long enough to see the actual results.

    1. Ya last i read avalos and campos dont think it is an issue that

      Needs to be regulated
      Im wondering how avalos would feel if the degenerates hung out outside his kids schools.

    2. The cops just don’t care. If they can’t log overtime or steal from the perps, they can’t be bothered.

      I love Campos’ excuse about retirees. They can’t see that one coming? WTF?! Are these just plain idiots running the PD? We certainly have an idiot representing District 9. All he does is talk, not return email, and chase every windmill in this city.

      I live in the Mission, have sent dozens of emails complaining about trash, crime, and a general lack of city services. Nothing improves …

      Well, free Muni for kids might pass….

      Worst run city in America – hands down.

  8. hookers;and pimps=drugs=drug dealers=crack;speed;heroin=bike thefts;auto break-ins=street robberies=drunks feeling comfortable hanging around=more transients getting drunk=using all of the above…repeat/repeat again..do we see how this all adds up????;from allowing even a single hooker(or two)..to hang out here..

  9. I have a big problem with hookers in the neighborhood. They do not scatter like scared deer, but are confrontational, foul-mouthed and aggressive. Worse yet are the johns cruising around and the pimps, both are very dangerous. This is not something that can or should be tolerated.

  10. Proofreading for you:

    Your article reads as follows…

    “Gang-related crime could be alleviated buy increasing…”

    “Buy” should be “by”.

  11. I haven’t had a problem with the hookers. They’re a bit like deer, when they see you they scatter. The addicts, drug dealers, and gang members, on the other hand, are out of control. At five a.m. this morning there was a troop of them on the corner hanging out. It’s gotten to where friends are afraid to come to my house for fear of getting mugged or attacked by a drugged out crazy person. Why aren’t the sit-lie laws being enforced in the Mission?!!!!

    1. The sit lie ordinance is only during the hours of 7am to 11pm. Also the police have been enforcing the law but unfortunately the tickets are getting dismissed. The DA is not taking the cases to court. So yes the police can write the citations but it is up to the DA and the courts to hand out punishment. I read a story that members of Park Station had written over 100 tickets for violation of the sit/lie ordinance. Of the all of the tickets not one person was fined or disciplined in anyway. So now I think the police have given up…If they are not going to get any support why bother. Especially when they are so short staffed.

      1. Sorry
        They dont scatter,they continue to pee,POO,SHOOT UP,SMOKE,SLEEP,ETC. AND If the gate is left open at night you find their gifts mounds of poo and toilet paper. Thank god its raining, may it never stop and may it never be windy