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Salinas City Council passes ordinance aimed at properties with illegal sex work

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) - UPDATE JAN 9. 2024 7:04 P.M.- The Salinas City Council passed a red light ordnance to ban properties from allowing sex workers to use their properties for work.

According to the Salinas City Attorney Christopher Callihan, the ordnance would allow the city to take action against property owners.

The ordinance says if there is evidence of illegal sex work happening there, then the city can take action and seek an injunction to prevent that activity.

"There's been a huge increase in prostitutions and related activities in the last year or more," Councilman Steve McShane said. "Tonight's action will give our law enforcement in our city a few more tools to try and curtail that."

All councilmembers who were in attendance passed the ordinance during Tuesday's meeting. Mayor Kimbley Craig and Councilmember Carla Viviana González were not in attendance during Tuesday's meeting.

ORIGINAL DEC. 6, 2023 11:47 P.M.: On Tuesday night, Salinas City Council introduced a new ordinance aimed at addressing a rise in sex workers.

The “red light abatement” ordinance would ban properties from allowing sex workers to sell sex on their property.

“It's a policing issue in the sense that we don't have enough officers, a call for service in this capacity is not going to rank as high as a domestic or an attempted murder," Salinas District 3 Councilmember Steve McShane said.

The Salinas Police Department is facing an ongoing staffing shortage complicating the issue. The city points out the move is not meant to target sex workers specifically. Salinas City Attorney Christopher A. Callihan explained how Salinas Police would monitor activities at particular properties.

“We take that information that your police department would have has gathered, we would present that to the court and we would say, look, judge, this is the situation at this property," Callihan said.

Callihan goes on to say once the evidence is presented, an injunction on the property would be requested. No action was taken on the ordinance during Tuesday’s meeting. However, many people during public comment saying the appreciate the item being brought up.

The ordinance is scheduled to return to city council for consideration on January 9.

Last year, Gov. Newsom signed "The Safer Streets for All" act into law. That repealed state law provisions surrounding loitering with the intent to commit illegal sex work.

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Austin Castro

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