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A hooker by trade, she has switched locations and working hours--and is one of a growing number of prostitutes who have changed the way they sell sex after a city crackdown that began nearly 18 months ago. Convicted prostitutes are now banned from some sections of Sunset and Sepulveda boulevards--traditional working areas in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. Business owners weary of the illicit trade in those neighborhoods say the new law has dramatically reduced the number of hookers who used to congregate on nearby corners.
In the Valley, the restrictions are in effect between 5 p. So as an added precaution, Machelle works days. Los Angeles police vice officers in the Valley are working to close some of the loopholes, such as extending the restrictions to 24 hours a day--now the practice in Hollywood. And awaiting Gov. The legislation is far broader than the mapping program, which applies only to convicted hookers and restricts their behavior on selected streets. The law is strongly opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union on constitutional grounds.
Police say the criminal justice system is now so overcrowded--the result of scores of new crime laws and shrinking budgets--that misdemeanor violators, including prostitutes, seldom serve full sentences. Passage of the legislation is also a credit to the persistence of residents in Hollywood and the Valley, who have triggered this latest round in the battle against streetwalking.
They have long complained about the traffic, crime and other troubles that accompany prostitution. In the past, the difficulty in arresting prostitutes has always been the legal requirement that they must solicit a police officer, be caught in the act or agree to sex for money. Veteran prostitutes had learned to avoid those circumstances. Roughly a year later, the program was introduced in the Valley. And so far, residents and business owners say the crackdown has reduced streetwalking on portions of Sherman Way, Sepulveda, Reseda and Lankershim boulevards that for years had attracted prostitutes and their customers.
So far in the Valley, more than prostitutes have been put on restriction under the mapping program. At least 50 of them have been rearrested for violating its conditions, which also prohibit accepting rides and sitting in parked cars with motorists. Carl Frank, who heads the vice squad at the North Hollywood Division. John C. Staugaard agreed. To avoid arrest, for example, some hookers have abandoned profitable business strips in favor of nearby residential neighborhoods.