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4-Day Week : In Duarte, You Can Deal With It After Work

February 16, 1986|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

DUARTE — When Craig Forrest got off work at World Vision in Monrovia late last Wednesday afternoon, he went to Duarte City Hall to get a special parking permit.

He got the permit, even though he arrived after 5:30 p.m.

Forrest was doing business at the only City Hall in the San Gabriel Valley where people can get their errands done before or after work, under a plan by which City Hall is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed Friday through Sunday.

"It is a big help to have City Hall open late because I can stop here after work," Forrest said.

Plan Ahead

"And I haven't even thought about it being closed on Fridays. If people plan ahead, they can do their City Hall business the other days of the week. And it seems to be a good idea for the employees."

The four-day work schedule appealed to Alice Watkins, who started her job as secretary to the City Council a month ago.

"I had always worked an 8:30 a.m.-to-5 p.m. job, but the four-day workweek was one reason I took this job." she said. "I had heard only good things about it and I was right.

"It gives me time to schedule dental appointments and my children's school meetings on Fridays," she said.

'Not Hard to Adjust'

"My commuting time is short so I am still home by 6:20 to cook dinner. It's not hard to adjust to the long hours and I think a lot of places don't use the plan because people are afraid of change."

Another of the 25 Duarte city workers who are on what is called the 4-10 plan is Sylvia Hurtado, an associate planner who has worked for the city for four years. She likes the plan because she drives back and forth to Duarte from Orange County and the four-day week cuts down on her commuting.

"I live in Buena Park so it is great that I only have to commute four days instead of five," she said. "And I like having those three days off."

Residents Lined Up

Duarte started its 4-10 program after city workers noticed about six years ago that when City Hall opened at 8 a.m., residents on their way to work were lined up waiting to do business there; others were just arriving when closing time came at 5 p.m. Employees also observed that few residents came to City Hall on Fridays.

After a more than a year of experimentation and adjustments, Duarte adopted the 4-10 plan.

The schedule has been well received by residents.

"I prefer the extended hours because it definitely helps working people, and today most people work," said Susanne O'Brien, who works at City Hall in neighboring Bradbury.

Can Call Sheriff

"I have gone to purchase a dog license and a yard sale license and I find it an asset. The one day a week I can't get hold of them is not a problem. If I have an emergency I can call the Sheriff's Department."

Another resident, Charles Arrieta, said he doesn't visit City Hall often, but when he needs a temporary overnight parking permit, "it helps to have City Hall open later because I work in Los Angeles." Arrieta, who showed up at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, said it would have been impossible for him to get to Duarte from his job by 5 p.m., when most city halls close.

According to the Municipal Yearbook of 1985, published by the International City Management Assn., 36 cities in the state, mostly in Northern California, have modified work schedules for some employees.

Popular in North

The 4-10 plan has yet to catch on elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley, said Duarte City Manager Ken Caresio, who researched personnel practices in other cities before proposing the plan to his employees and the city's 20,000 residents.

"Most cities did it with maintenance people first to see how it worked," he said. "One city in Northern California had tried staying open until 9 p.m. one night a week but found that was too long a day for their employees.

"But our employees who would be affected were willing to try a version of the plan, even though some were hesitant because they feared getting too tired or getting home so late."

So Duarte experimented with a 4 1/2-day week in 1980, working regular hours Monday through Thursday and opening City Hall from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays.

Six-Month Trial

"That worked so well that a year later we did a six-month trial period with the four-day week," Caresio said. "We had to make adjustments as we went along. At first employees had a half-hour for lunch, but this was not enough of a break for them so the lunch hour was expanded. . . . The hours we were open were also (expanded)."

Not all Duarte city workers are on the 4-10 plan. The building inspector still works on Fridays and the Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments operate on a regular schedule.

Few residents have complained about the Friday closure of City Hall, city officials said, and most seem to prefer handling such matters as dog licenses, garage sale permits and construction permits before or after work on the other weekdays.

A List of Employees

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