SPOKANE, Wash. – It has been almost a year and a half since the City of Spokane installed eight signs warning people of a “high prostitution areas” near East Sprague.
KREM 2 On Your Side wanted to know if those signs had made a difference, so we went to an East Spokane Business Association annual event to get reaction from local business owners. The reaction was mixed for the most part.
The signs read “Designated Area of High Prostitution Activity” and were installed by city leaders in March 2015 in an effort to curb prostitution. The idea was that police would be able to have the car of someone soliciting prostitution towed at the driver’s expense.
Shortly after the signs first went up, Spokane Police conducted two stings and arrested seven people and impounded five cars.
When KREM 2 News first brought this story, not all neighbors were thrilled.
A year ago, James Fox said the signs just pointed out the obvious.
“If you didn’t know where to find a hooker before you do now, the city put up a sign designating an area for prostitutes,” he said.
With now a year of data to look back on, Jim Hanley, a co-owner of the Tin Roof Furniture Store, said it has helped – a lot.
“Now, if you see something happening, there is a way for the police department to legally respond,” he said.
James Apker owns a construction management company that does work in East Central Spokane.
“Now we have some signs saying, ‘Hey if you’re going to do business, this type of business, you’re now being warned,’” he said. “I do think they’ve helped.”
Other businesses on East Sprague had varying opinions. Some would not talk on camera, but said the signs have not helped in trying to shake the area’s image.
Simply said, they argued that it is hard to look at a sign referencing prostitution and not think about prostitution.
Still, other business owners like Hanley say it is an issue that is starting to go away.
“It gave the police another tool to help correct the small problems that we see.”
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