SPOKANE, Wash. – The City of Spokane made a concerted effort on Wednesday to curb prostitution in the neighborhood.
City crews are putting up signs with the goal of helping reduce prostitution and improve neighborhoods. Officials said there will be eight signs posted around Sprague Ave.
The signs read:
"Designated Area of High Prostitution Activity. Vehicles used to further prostitution will be impounded."
City officials in January announced plans to implement an ordinance aimed at those who solicit a prostitute by towing their car.
'If you're soliciting prostitutes, you may think twice if you see a sign that says we're going to impound your car if we catch you," said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart.
The proposed ordinance would only work if the City identifies that part of the city as an area with a high number of prostitutes. That's where the new signs come in.
Neighbors, Spokane Police, and local businesses will also be going door-to-door to hand out flyers that prompt people to report any sex trafficking they see.
Citizens are encouraged to write down the license plate, vehicle description and the suspect description of individuals believed to be soliciting a prostitute. Spokane Police said they will follow up by contacting the registered owner of the reported vehicles.
"$500 impound fee, in addition to the cost of the impound, in addition to getting booked into jail, in addition to whatever the prosecutor does with the case eventually," said Lieutenant Mark Griffiths of the Spokane Police Department.
Spokane Police also said during the month of March they will be conducting undercover sting operations to catch people who attempt to buy a prostitute. Those caught will be booked into jail, and their vehicles impounded.
The initial reaction from residents has been positive. Some think the signs will help clean up the area and reduce prostitution.
"The signs are great, it's necessary," said Tara Brown of the East Spokane Business Association.
Not everyone is happy about the signs however.
One resident who spoke with KREM 2 News said they feel the signs are just telling people where they can go to find a prostitute.
"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," said James Fox who lives near Sprague.
So when police and local business owners were asked about the signs on Sprague, they responded by saying people should not be too shocked.
"It's not a surprise what's going on here, people already think and talk about it, so a small sign isn't a big news flash to anyone," said Brown.
As for if the signs will curb prostitution in the neighborhood, Brown said it can only help.