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Informed Opinions on Today's Topics : Regulating Day Laborers' Solicitations


Despite homeowner opposition to curbside job solicitation in Ladera Heights, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected a proposal to ban day laborers from gathering near homes, schools, playgrounds and churches. Instead, the board adopted a much narrower ordinance that only forbids job hunters from gathering in commercial parking lots if signs prohibit the practice and if an alternate site is provided by lot owners. The measure, which applies only to unincorporated county areas, followed rancorous debate between homeowners who favored the stronger proposal and civil rights groups that denounced the restrictions as anti-immigrant.

Should restrictions be placed on day laborers soliciting work in public?

Joe R. Hicks, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, which opposed the supervisors' stronger proposal:

"I think there can be and should be some restrictions. It can't be a situation where individuals who solicit work are disrupting traffic. Certainly, there are restrictions on behavior that are controlled by existing laws. . . . If these men had access to jobs and trade unions where they could be employed for good wages, they would be doing that. They're there because of the lack of jobs or job opportunities for them. Common ground can be found in the type of limited ordinance passed."

Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California:

"We support the ordinance as passed. It allows (day laborers) to solicit work and it answers some of the concerns of the property owners. If the original ordinance had passed, it would have infringed on their right to solicit work. I think (it's) a fine compromise."

Don Schultz, president of the Van Nuys Homeowners Assn.:

"This is begging on the streets for work. . . . We are overrun with a decaying way of life in Los Angeles and our elected officials have allowed it."

Thomas Chabolla, executive director of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese's office of justice and peace:

"Our position on it has been that there are issues on both sides. There's the rights of the property owners and there's the rights of the day laborers to seek employment. It's a highly emotional issue. There needs to be opportunities and leadership to find common ground rather than proposing ordinances that seek to outlaw (job solicitation). . . . It needs to be understood that day laborers congregate at sites where there is economic activity. If you move them to another site, it's a good chance the contractors aren't going to go (there)."

Jose De Paz, executive director of the Immigration Assistance Project:

"I think that if they're not obstructing anyone, they should be allowed to (solicit work). From our experience, they do not do that. City government and day laborers need to work with each other to come to some kind of agreement. . . . The trend has been to declare anything that is unpleasant illegal, hoping that it will go away. But it won't go away. I think 10 years from now--maybe longer--we're going to look back . . . and be ashamed of ourselves."

Tom Hilborn, president of the Reseda Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of the Reseda Business and Community Alliance:

"What I think we need to do is get a clear-cut agenda of how to deal with it. We need clarity. We've had areas where they've tried to set up places where you could go to get day laborers. . . . We've had other areas where they want day laborers out. There is no standardized system to deal with it."

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