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Fair weather no asset on Polk

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Business owners and residents living along Polk Street are hoping city officials can help them crack down on a seasonal spike of prostitution in the neighborhood.

"This is the world’s oldest profession, and I don’t expect it to go away — I just expect it to be checked a little," said Stephen Cornell, the owner of Brownie’s Hardware on Polk and Sacramento streets.

Every summer, when the sun heats up and more tourists come into The City, prostitution picks up along Polk Street and in the Mission and Tenderloin districts, according to David Shinn, a deputy chief with the Police Department’s field operations bureau.

Business owners have complained about being intimidated by fights breaking out between pimps while they the business owners trying to receive their early morning deliveries, according to Jordanna Thigpen, who lives in the area and is the president of the Small Business Commission. She said the problem is a not only a safety issue but is also about women’s rights and public health.

The community will meet with Supervisor Aaron Peskin and the Police Department on Monday to attempt to solve the problems before bigger issues emerge, according to Cornell.

Peskin said part of the challenge is ensuring that prostitutes do not leave one neighborhood and simply move over to the next.

"Prostitution is like a toothpaste tube — when you squeeze it one place, it comes out in another place," he said. "So when you crack down in one place, they pop up in another. If you crack down in the Mission, theygo to another neighborhood."

There have been five recent prostitution-related arrests in the neighborhood, according to police records. But Shinn said that from his experience on patrol he has seen that drugs and violent crimes sometimes come with prostitution. Monday’s meeting will discuss how to combat solicitation and the ills that come along with it.

"Bottom line is, the message that has to be sent out — people think this is a victimless crime [but] it’s not," Peskin said. "It destroys a neighborhood."

sfarooq@examiner.com