Newsom: Keep prostitution illegal

Reducing law enforcement pressure on prostitution in The City would be a “terrible mistake,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday in response to a proposal by one city legislator.

“There are few cities in the world that have more problems with sex trafficking than San Francisco,” Newsom said. “All this does is further the prospects that that will continue.”

Last month, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick asked the city attorney to draft legislation directing San Francisco police to make prostitution one of its lowest enforcement priorities. McGoldrick said reducing enforcement would help curb trafficking and exploitation in the sex industry.

The City spends $11.4 million enforcing prostitution laws, according to a Budget Analyst’s Office estimate.

Prostitution is not a victimless crime, the mayor said.

“I think the legalization of prostitution would be a terrible mistake,” the mayor said. “Any time you see a security gate and a security camera, you know something inappropriate is happening in there.”

McGoldrick told The Examiner he is pushing the idea in an effort to bring out from the shadows the problems of trafficking and exploitation by muting legal repercussions for sex workers.

“By driving sex workers underground, what you do is create opportunity for crimes to be committed against them,” McGoldrick said.

Dawn Trennert, a resident in the Middle Polk neighborhood, has worked with police to cut down on prostitution there, and said she disagreed with McGoldrick’s proposal.

“The vast majority of prostitutes who work in San Francisco don’t live in San Francisco,” Trennert said. “They commute here because we’re easy on crime. How much more of this trafficking would occur if the police don’t even address the issue?”

dsmith@examiner.com

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