About a month ago, I moved into a new apartment not far from Lombard St. Around 1:30 a.m. after taking a half a dozen Zipcar trips from my old digs, I finally unloaded my last moving box. As I walked to my new building, I noticed a haggard, toothless woman standing in the doorway. I asked if I could help her, and she responded, “I am a prostitute and the dude in Apt. 3 called me. Can’t you help me out?” Seeing as my place was Apt. 3, I knew she was bluffing, and just wanted to come in. So I made an excuse and tried to sneak my way past her. She then proceeded to call me a b*tch when I wouldn’t let her in. Welcome to the neighborhood, I thought.
During my two years in my previous apartment just two blocks away, I’d never had an experience like this. Could the local flavor really change so much in just a few hundred feet? As it turns out, it may have been more about climate than geography.
Neighborhood groups from lower Polk to Russian Hill have noted that prostitution has drastically increased in the last month. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu thinks that crime normally associated with the Tenderloin has migrated North to Russian Hill. That said, with prostitution comes drug dealing and other unpleasant activity — like the disarming aggression I myself encountered. Police Chief George Gascon will announce plans to handle the issue next Tuesday afternoon, but one of the ideas he’s tossing around is publicly shaming “patrons” of prostitutes to discourage them.
This is a tricky subject. Not only do I think this sort of behavior should be unwelcome in my neighborhood, but I wouldn’t wish it upon any other community in the city; I wouldn’t recommend “pushing it back to the Tenderloin where it belongs.” And while I don’t condone prostitution, I also understand that enforcing laws against it can put marginalized types into more danger. I hope we can get this under wraps soon. Until then, I’m bolting my doors.