CALIFORNIA—On Friday, July 1, San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 357, “The Safer Streets for All Act,” which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill was filed by Secretary of State Shirley Weber the same day and published on July 5. It repeals a law that criminalized loitering with intent to participate in prostitution. The bill goes into effect January 1, 2023.
“Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) sent Senate Bill 357, the Safer Streets for All Act, to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for his action. The Legislature passed SB 357 last year, but Senator Wiener held the bill at the Senate desk, delaying its transmittal to the Governor,” reads a statement form Wiener’s website.
“Existing law prohibits soliciting or engaging in an act of prostitution, as specified. Existing law also prohibits loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution, as defined, or directing, supervising, recruiting, or aiding a person who is loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, or collecting or receiving all or part of the proceeds of an act of prostitution. Under existing law, a violation of any of these provisions is a misdemeanor,” reads Bill 357.
Reports indicate that members of the LGBTQ community indicated they were always being cited for loitering. Police officers were tasked with breaking up crowds and using their discretion on those they believed to be loitering to engage in prostitution.
Senator Wiener tweeted that the old law “Targeted black, brown, and trans women.”
According to Governor Newsom, “Prostitution is still illegal in the state of California.” He made the following statement regarding the possible “unintended consequences” of the bill.
“It simply revokes provisions of the law that have led to disproportionate harassment of women and transgendered adults. While I agree with the author’s intent and I am signing this legislation, we must be cautious about its implementation. My Administration will monitor crime and prosecution trends for any possible unintended consequences and will act to mitigate any such consequences.”
Senator Wiener indicated that the bill was sponsored by current and former prostitutes. A spokesperson for Senator Wieners’s office issued the following statement:
“The bill does not decriminalize soliciting or engaging in sex work. It simply eliminates a loitering offense that leads to harmful treatment of people for simply ‘appearing’ to be a sex worker.”