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Orange County Focus

LAKE FOREST : Dayworker Law Bans Public Hiring

April 22, 1993|FRANK MESSINA

As a group of jubilant homeowners and business people looked on, the City Council this week banned the hiring of dayworkers on city streets.

Passed unanimously as an urgency ordinance, the new law makes it a misdemeanor to solicit work or hire employees in public places. It takes effect immediately.

To make enforcement easier, the council also banned parking near the intersection of Jeronimo Road and Cherry Avenue, where about 35 dayworkers have been gathering over the past three years. About $47,000 was also set aside to pay for extra police patrols.

Residents and business owners have urged the council to pass the ordinance.

"Women are afraid to walk in the area. People are afraid to use the bike paths," resident Gordon Levack told the council Tuesday night. "Perhaps if I hired 10 or so dayworkers to stand in front of your homes, you would feel our pain."

Other residents described problems they say are created by groups of men who verbally harass women, urinate in public and commit petty thefts in the neighborhood.

"I have two kids, and I don't like not being able to go on the bike trail with them because (dayworkers) say rude things to you in front of your kids," said resident Julie Healy.

Not every person attending the council meeting supported the ordinance. Resident Sindy Hawke told the council, "It is not a crime to seek employment."

The dayworkers are "desperate people in desperate times who need work," she said. "I think we're being a little cold and a little heartless."

Councilman Richard T. Dixon said the city will give notice to dayworkers and pass out brochures that give information on work programs and job centers.

Lake Forest is now one of five Orange County cities that have passed laws restricting the hiring of dayworkers in public places. The others are Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa and Orange.

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