Whether they gather on street corners or in shopping center parking lots, workers seeking jobs for a day can cause problems. Motorists try to dodge both the day laborers and other motorists who stop to negotiate a price. Merchants worry that shoppers might be intimidated from patronizing their stores, or might be unable to find parking spaces.
Huntington Beach has faced those problems and has joined other Orange County cities in coming up with a sensible solution. The City Council has approved the establishment of a job center where day laborers can congregate to await offers of employment.
As has been the case elsewhere, it was the city's Police Department that proposed setting up the job center. One police lieutenant said when laborers by the dozens crowd shopping centers, it is "not a criminal problem, it's an annoyance problem."
In Orange two years ago, the police chief told City Council members who were considering doing away with the city's hiring hall that any money saved by shutting the facility would have to be spent by law enforcement. With nowhere to go, the laborers would be back on the corners, leading to complaints and closer police monitoring or orders to disperse, the chief said. The council wisely decided to keep the hall open.