Steel bollards meant to discourage johns from cruising up and down Capp Street are being installed by the city this week, replacing the concrete barriers that have sat on the street for months.
Public Works staff were at intersections from 18th to 22nd on Capp this morning, slicing into concrete and installing the 30-inch-tall yellow steel barriers.
Work proceeded in stages: At 21st and Capp, crews quickly installed the posts in trenches previously dug out and filled in with concrete; that work was done in less than 90 minutes.
At 18th and Capp, a backhoe dug out a long trench across the street and crews padded down the ground. Concrete will be poured into that trench and the barriers installed sometime next week, according to a crew member.
Work began Monday, according to an Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson, with crews marking out the sites to avoid hitting underground pipes or wires. The entire installation up and down Capp Street should be finished next week.
The bollards are the latest iteration in an attempt by the city to crack down on johns who have historically sought sex on Capp Street: In February, the city installed “Road Closed” signs along the street; those were routinely pushed aside or driven over by drivers.
Just a week later, they were replaced by large “k-rail” concrete barriers, impenetrable to drivers but also to the Fire Department, which raised concerns that they would prevent emergency access. They were also deemed unsightly by neighbors and frequently covered in graffiti.
The steel bollards were the agreed-upon solution by the city: They are padlocked at the bottom and can be turned down in emergencies.
The bollards only block off access to one side of Capp Street per block, allowing cars to enter on the other side. The blocked portions are the southside entrance on 18th and Capp, and the northside entrances of 20th and Capp, 21st and Capp, and 22nd and Capp.
The concrete barriers were, for their part, seemingly successful at deterring sex work on Capp Street itself. Residents, workers, and business owners along the street said in April that they no longer saw as many sex workers, though some said they had simply moved a few blocks away.
Regulars on Capp Street added that the street itself was much more idyllic without car traffic, similar to Shotwell and 20th streets nearby, two of the city’s so-called “Slow Streets” where through traffic is discouraged by plastic posts.
Stephen Chun, a spokesperson for the MTA, said that Capp Street should not be considered a “Slow Street,” however. Though the bollards will remain up and will only be turned down for emergency use, the bollards are meant to be a crime deterrent, he said, not a traffic solution.
“It’s not a permanent street closure,” he said. “These bollards are not meant to in any way have the official jurisdiction that it is a street closure.”