Prostitutes, look out. One of San Jose’s downtown neighborhoods is coming for you.
A press release sent out by Councilmember Sam Liccardo’s office says that at 6:30pm tonight, community members of the Guadalupe-Washington neighborhood and Santa Maria Urban Ministry will march along South First Street in front of Biblioteca Latinoamericana, located at 921 S. First Street.
The event is reminiscent to another community march that took place decades ago, when former downtown Councilmember and Mayor Tom McEnery joined small business owners, residents and even nuns from Notre Dame High School to walk the streets and confront the city’s’ less desirable elements.
The purpose of tonight’s march is to send a similar message to pimps and prostitutes that “their illegal and egregious behavior will not be tolerated.”
“The surrounding neighborhood is being victimized by this kind of activity,” Liccardo said in the news release. “Our office and the San Jose Police Department field multiple calls every week from community members who tell us they can’t let their kids walk to the library or to the bus stop for fear of being harassed by pimps and prostitutes.”
Omar Torres, a long-time Guadalupe-Washington resident and executive director of Santa Maria Urban Ministry, said it was important to “stand up and react,” otherwise “young women and our community be further victimized.”
“We have and continue to work hard with our local schools and non-profits to keep the Guadalupe-Washington neighborhood a safe and thriving community.”
The march comes after a series of meetings with downtown stakeholders about eliminating prostitution. In late July, the city obtained a preliminary injunction against Hotel Elan, located at 1215 S. First St. The city claimed the hotel allowed “prostitution to regularly and openly take place on its property over the last four years.”
Since that time, the hotel hired security, installed cameras and a fence along the property’s perimeter. According to Liccardo’s office, the councilmember, the San Jose Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office have met with downtown motel owners along the North First Street corridor to form a Hotel and Business Watch group.
Liccardo’s office said it also plans to release proposal to convert some motels to affordable housing.