- Published on Tuesday, 14 March 2000 19:56
- Written by Christine Chiu - Special to the Town Crier
The city of Mountain View is in the process of enacting a no-solicitation ordinance aimed at the hundreds of day workers who have congregated for more than 10 years along or near El Camino Real and San Antonio Road.
A similar ordinance, already passed by the Los Altos council last July almost immediately forced the workers from the Los Altos side of El Camino to the Mountain View side. The Los Altos day worker ordinance, and one considered by Mountain View, forbids prospective employers to stop by the roadside and solicit work.
The laws are the result of years of complaints among Los Altos and Mountain View businesses and residents about large groups of day workers who stand on the roadside of El Camino Real, hoping to find work from people who drive by.
The Los Altos ordinance went into effect in September. Although the city could not prevent the workers from congregating on the sidewalks, a violation of their First Amendment right to assemble, it could restrict their ability to find work by making it more difficult for employers to stop and hire them. Thus far, Los Altos officials said the ordinance has been effective in keeping workers off Los Altos sidewalks.
"The ordinance was supposed to stop the vehicles and pedestrians from soliciting work in the right of way and it did exactly that," said Layne Long, Los Altos assistant to the city manager.
The Mountain View City Council's Neighborhoods Committee proposed a day worker ordinance similar to that of Los Altos at the Dec. 7 council meeting. The ordinance would designate El Camino Real as a no-stopping, no-parking zone from Showers Drive to San Antonio Road, would provide $6,000 for increased day worker-employer education, and would require more discussion on the possible use of city property for a day worker center.
Equally as important as the legal aspects of the ordinance are the city's plans to work with a local day worker center.
The St. Joseph The Worker Center located at El Camino and Jordan Avenue in Los Altos, tries to "help people become familiar with assimilating into our society. Through our center, (the workers) can learn the language, learn about health and learn basically how to be self-sufficient, which includes finding employment." said director Mary Martinez. "The city of Mountain View is excellent in bringing in workers and employers to our center."
A program under the St. Vincent de Paul society, the center provides both day-to-day and permanent job opportunities, health education, English as a second language classes, and emergency services. To increase the effectiveness of the center, Martinez hopes to raise community awareness. "The cities should try to educate the community more so that we can better utilize the center. If more employers and residents make use of the center, people will understand why it is there," she said.
As of now, according to Mountain View assistant city manager Alex Terrazas, the day worker issue has been referred to the Mountain View City Council Neighborhoods Committee. The Committee, which is currently made up of Councilmembers Sally Lieber, chairwoman, Michael Kasperzak, and Mary Lou Zoglin, will meet later this month to schedule a date for a second reading of the ordinance.