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Council passes day-labor center ordinance

August 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Wednesday's vote ends four years of laboring over how to regulate day laborers at large home improvement stores.The City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday that requires home-improvement stores such as The Home Depot, Lowe's, Osh and others more than 100,000 square feet in size to set aside space for day-laborer shelters. The shelters must include drinking water, bathrooms, tables, seating and garbage cans, and must be close to the store location.

The 15-member City Council voted for the ordinance unanimously Wednesday.

"It is not an ordinance that impacts or takes into account a person's immigration status," said L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks. "It's not an ordinance that mandates shelters. It merely gives communities the ability to have input in the conditional-use process."

Supporters say labor centers at these stores will make it safer for the workers, and those seeking to hire them.

"The proposed ordinance requires only that there's a plan upfront before a store opens," said Pablo Alvarado, member of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "That is an essential first step to ensure that we have successful day laborer centers in our city."

"As this economy gets worse, I will tell you, there will be more people who want to find day work, and I think that this is a good ordinance. I think it makes sense," said City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

The ordinance goes to Mayor Villaraigosa; once the ordinance is signed by the mayor, the ordinance becomes law and goes into effect in 30 days. It also requires store developers to look into the need for security.

This ordinance, according to Parks, will save the city around $2 million per year in litigation and solve other problems day laborers congregating at home-improvement stores cause.

City News Service contributed to this report.

 

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