Mayor Todd Gloria crashes Repeal SB 357 press conference, despite support for the legislation

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In January 2002, California’s Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 357 into law, a highly controversial piece of legislation authored by State Senator Scott Wiener.

When it passed the State Senate, the office of the bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Fransisco, has said that the current law allows police to cite situations such as when a person speaks to pedestrians, wears revealing clothing, or moves in some particular way as clues on whether that person has the intention to engage in sex work.

Weiner insisted then, and still does today, that the legislation protects the LGBTQ and transgender community. SB 357 was even marketed as the “Safer Streets For All Act” before it was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

But one year after it became law, and it is clear the bill is a failure.

On February 21, 2023, the “Operation Better Pathways” sex trafficking probe led to the arrest of 48 people, and rescue of 8 children in San Diego and National City. Operation Better Pathways, which was held between Jan. 9 and Feb. 10, involved law enforcement surveillance of “areas known for sexual exploitation in San Diego and National City.” Undercover officers posed as people offering sex for sale, resulting in the four dozen arrests for alleged crimes ranging from human trafficking of a minor to assault with a deadly weapon. Additionally, 41 other people — including eight children — were offered support services as a result of the operation.

San Diego County District Attorney was appalled at the results of the operation, explaining that “young women being openly trafficked in broad daylight, with individuals paying for sex lined up like they were going through a fast-food drive thru.”

To make matters worse, more than 1,300 human trafficking cases were reported in 2021 in California, more than any other state, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

On February 23, 2023, Shane Harris led a press conference (below) with various elected officials and law enforcement leaders alongside him. Harris slammed Weiner for authoring this legislation, as he detailed many reasons why Governor Newsom needs to repeal the law. Harris emphasized the fact that SB 357 exploits our most vulnerable population, foster youth. Harris grew up in foster care himself, and his now a leading advocate for foster children in the community.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) says the bill sought to address the disproportionate harassment of women and transgendered adults but Rev. Harris argues “the intent of the bill is instead turning into an opportunity for perpetrators to exploit vulnerable children.”

California Attorney General Bonta, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit, National City, CA Police Chief Jose Tellez and San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and others were in attendance to support Harris’ call for repeal.

Chairman of Reform California, Carl DeMaio, joined KUSI’s Paul Rudy on Good Morning San Diego to call out San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s attempt to take credit for the push to repeal SB 357. DeMaio told the audience that Gloria himself was a supporter of the bill when he was a State Assemblyman, and is now standing there as if he was against it all along.

DeMaio explained, “Mayor Todd Gloria crashed the press conference.” Continuing, “he knew that he backed this bill. He’s a big supporter of SB 357. So he stood off in the corner, said some things about why we need to protect the young and the children, and very quickly snuck out the back door. Well he’s one of the guys in the state legislature who was responsible for the passage of this bill, and he still says, get this, sex work is real work.”

DeMaio concluded saying, “this guy as Mayor has been an absolute disaster.”

KUSI reached out to Mayor Todd Gloria’s office and they supplied the following statement in response to DeMaio:

“Mayor Gloria was no longer in the legislature when that bill was passed, and he had no position on it. He has always and continues to support law enforcement/SDPD’s efforts to bring sex traffickers to justice.”

Republicans and moderate Democrats have argued that the measure mitigates law enforcement’s ability to police human trafficking and protect victims.

Full press conference:

EARLIER STORIES: Anti-human trafficking advocates call for repeal of California’s SB 357

SB 357 to legalize loitering with intent to engage in prostitution 

Categories: California News, Good Morning San Diego, Local San Diego News, National & International News, Politics