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L.A. considers day laborer shelters

August 5, 2008 10:46:59 AM PDT
An L.A. City Council committee is looking at an ordinance requiring large home-improvement stores to build facilities for day laborers. Critics say it's just going to make a bad situation worse.Los Angeles has been laboring over how to regulate day-laborers at big home-improvement stores for three years. Here's what was approved Tuesday afternoon.

Future store sites of 100,000 square feet or bigger may be required to build day-laborer centers similar to those seen in neighboring cities.

Juan Aguirre, a former day laborer himself, runs the Carecen Labor Center day-labor center near downtown Los Angeles.

"We provide help to these people that stay here in the safest spot," said Aguirre. "We have a TV, we provide some food, and they can use the bathroom, and they're safe over here."

The developer of a new store is required now to come up with a plan that deals with day laborers. Does the site need, say, added security or a shelter, for example?

A Home Depot representative had these suggestions: "Non-profit day labor center operators working with the city shall operate day labor centers. A home improvement store should not be responsible for operating a shelter. The ordinance does not define who will operate the shelters and what standards will be used to determine their success," said Francisco Uribe, senior manager, government relations, The Home Depot.

Some day laborers who did not want to go on camera told Eyewitness News that they like the idea of something like this because for them, it's a safety issue: They don't have to zig-zag through cars looking for work.

A security firm representative told Eyewitness News that the plan sounds good in theory, but dealing with nuisance issues such as loitering and litter are common complaints from neighbors.

"And what it does is it creates an environment, through a conditional use permit process, for a specific plan to be developed as to how you might mitigate the potential nuisance in a particular neighborhood that basically are very different throughout the city of Los Angeles," said Mike Hernandez, aide to L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks.

The ordinance, according to the committee, has been written so it can be amended to deal with future problems.

 

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