Hoping to raise a fuss about the increased number of prostitutes in their neighborhood, a group of church leaders and community members planned to hold a safety march on Thursday to make the public more aware about police cuts and crime.
Omar Torres, the new executive director of the Santa Maria Urban Ministry, helped organize the march with the Guadalupe Washington Neighborhood Association. The aim? To improve the quality of life on South First Street.
"It is our obligation to eradicate negative activities that make First Street very unsafe for our kids, elderly residents, local businesses and our greater community," Torres said.
He said the residents in the neighborhood have seen a "surge of negative" activities on First Street - all within walking distance from the Washington United Youth Center, the Biblioteca Latinoamericana, the Brenda Lopez Memorial Park and Washington Elementary School.
"Kids are seeing things they shouldn't be seeing," said resident Alicia Alvarez. "Prostitutues are walking in front of my house."
All that, including children picking up condoms in the neighborhood thinking they are balloons, frustrates Torres and his team.
"We must work diligently to make sure the school children and their families feel safe," he said, adding that his ministry will also collaborate with the YWCA to help the "young, exploited women are are forced to work the streets."
The march will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and start in front of the Biblioteca Latinoamericana at 921 S. First Street. For more information, contact Torres at email@example.com or 408-624-0650.
NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.