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Job-Seeking on Street to Be Prohibited

July 24, 1998|LESLEY WRIGHT

Beginning next month, day laborers and their employers will be barred from arranging jobs on city streets. But they will be able to turn to a new job center expected to open in the fall.

City Council members unanimously passed an ordinance this week making the solicitation of employment on public streets, sidewalks or alleys a misdemeanor. Job-seeking will also be illegal within 25 feet of any parking lot or driveway that is open to the public if the landowner posts a sign prohibiting it.

The new law takes effect Aug. 20. Soon after that, officials said, they hope to be able to direct employers and potential employees to a job center at 18131 Gothard St., near Talbert Avenue.

The site, once a county transfer station, will include trailer offices, restrooms, telephones, benches, shade trees and one or two city employees to coordinate job efforts.

The city received a $40,000 federal grant to create the center in 1995, but administrative problems kept it in paperwork.

"It's been kind of a journey," said Lt. Luis Ochoa of the city's Police Department, which so far has handled the issue.

Negotiations over renting the site from the county took years, but a final lease agreement should be ready for the City Council to vote on by next month, Ochoa said.

Once approved, the center could open as early as October.

Police expect 80 to 120 workers a day to use the services. Potential employees will have to show proof that they are in the United States legally and are residents of Huntington Beach.

The move should help calm merchants who regularly complain about job-seekers hanging out near their businesses.

"Large groups of men clustered here and there are often quite intimidating," Ochoa said. "We will set up a hiring structure for them and people that will hire them. This will kind of remove a community problem and help the people looking for work."

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