Newsom Administration Issues Muted Response To Increasing Prostitution in California

( — Frustration is rising with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s lack of action regarding the fallout from the controversial Safer Streets for All Act that he signed in July 2023. Proponents argued that it would make the streets safer for transgender people and prostitutes. Sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener and heavily backed by organizations focused on decriminalizing prostitution, the law repealed an earlier California penal code that criminalized loitering with the intent of engaging in prostitution.

Opponents argued that it would effectively legalize street prostitution and afford cover for sex trafficking. Even when he signed the bill into law, Governor Newsom commented that the implementation of the act would require close supervision to make sure there wouldn’t be unintended consequences. The Republican District Attorney of San Diego County, Summer Stephan, as well as many residents and business owners, say their worst fears about the Safer Streets Act have come true.

Stephan published an op-ed piece in The Times of San Diego on January 30 decrying the situation. She says that the police relied on the ability to make such arrests to intervene in cases of suspected human trafficking and now they are seeing girls as young as 13 being sold on the street in broad daylight with little legal standing to step in. Locals are seeing parking lots full of buyers and nearly nude prostitutes parading around the streets, hawking their bodies at all hours. Children walking to school or passing in school buses are witnesses to these open-air markets. Some schools have covered their windows to shut out the sight during school hours.

Business owners, whose names are withheld as they fear retribution from pimps, complain that some prostitutes have become aggressive towards them as they go about their daily work and threaten to send their pimps to hurt them. Cars wait in lines like a drive-through window to pick up prostitutes, blocking traffic and access to parking areas. National City Mayor Ron Morrison has characterized the law as the Safer Streets for Pimps Initiative. As officials and locals in heavily affected areas increasingly raise the alarm about the worsening city conditions due to the Safer Streets Act, Governor Newsom’s office has released the unhelpful statement that prostitution is still illegal, and his office is monitoring the situation.

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