Prostitution on State Street is on the decline, but more work is needed to "clean up" the situation, area residents and business owners told the Salt Lake County Commission on Monday.
Verlyn Thomas, who lives just off State near 1500 South, told the commission the area of State Street between 1300 and 1700 South became infested with prostitutes after word got out that the Salt Lake County Jail was not accepting misdemeanor offenders, including prostitutes, because of overcrowding.Thomas, chairwoman of the People's Freeway Community Council, said the problem has decreased since her group began putting pressure on the county to accept prostitutes in the jail. She said the council plans to promote a bill in the Legislature that would make certain prostitution-related crimes felony offenses.
Even though the prostitution traffic in the area has decreased, Wilma Hilton, who lives at 1560 S. State, said the corner next to her house is still frequented by prostitutes, especially in the evenings. She and her neighbors, most of them elderly and living alone, are frightened by the kind of traffic the prostitutes attract in front of their houses.
Tony Bernard, president of Bernard Typesetting Corp. and Quality Rubber Stamp Co. at 1470 S. State, said the prostitutes scare away his customers. Female employees who leave the business for lunch are also harassed by would-be prostitution customers, he said.
Commissioner M. Tom Shimizu said additional jail space for arrested prostitutes will be available when the Oxbow facility, being built in South Salt Lake, is finished.