A controversial policy change in California, resulting from the repeal of a state law prohibiting loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution, has led to brazen acts of prostitution along highways, causing unwanted exposure to drivers. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 357 in July of the previous year, repealing loitering laws for prostitutes. The Mayor of National City, Ron Morrison, voiced his concerns about the situation.
Morrison explained that since the repeal of this law, prostitutes in California are openly engaging in explicit acts in public spaces, with some of them wearing minimal clothing, such as g-strings. They have been seen waving to people on the freeway and approaching vehicles.
The mayor emphasized the challenges created by the state’s indecent exposure laws, which essentially permit such acts as long as the genitals are covered. He described the prostitutes as wearing attire even skimpier than a negligee.
Prostitutes have been frequently gathering in a downtown area of National City, a diverse community with around 60,000 residents. They are most active during the early morning hours and after 3 pm. Due to California’s recent legalization of jaywalking, prostitutes are standing in traffic and approaching vehicles to find customers.
Morrison expressed his frustration with this situation, which also negatively impacts local businesses. Some business owners have complained that the presence of nearly naked prostitutes drives away customers.
Morrison criticized Senate Bill 357, labeling it “idiotic” and suggesting that it incentivizes human trafficking. He pointed out that some of the prostitutes appear to be very young, with minors as young as 12 years old working the streets. He argued that the repeal of the loitering law has opened the door to prostitution, sex trafficking, child exploitation, and other related issues.
Despite prostitution remaining a crime under California law, Morrison claimed that SB 357 has indirectly decriminalized it. The bill was authored by Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco, known for introducing controversial legislation. Wiener’s intentions for the bill included protecting trans-identified prostitutes from police targeting based on appearance.
This controversial policy change has ignited debates about its implications and effects on public spaces in California.