City council OKs Mountain View Day Worker Center

Photo Elliott Burr/Special To The Town Crier

Local dayworkers listen to their centers appeal hearing in Spanish translation at a Mountain View City Council meeting.

Maria Marroquin will finally realize her dream. Her words minimal, the executive director of the Day Worker Center of Mountain View said she could not be happier with the Mountain View City Council’s May 12 decision to grant a conditional-use permit to the center.

"This is a wonderful moment in my life," Marroquin said.

The permit will allow the conversion of an abandoned property at 103 and 113 Escuela Ave. in Mountain View to a permanent dayworker employment hub.

Neighbors of the site have contested the relocation since supporters of the center contributed to the purchase of the $300,000 property last year. Many remained uneasy with the council's decision, but one opponent said he is relieved the battle is over.

"I respectfully disagree with the city council in regard to zoning of that particular lot," said Vince Raciti, a resident on Escuela Avenue. "But it's been an uphill battle since a little over a year ago, and I have no interest or time in pursuing this further."

City staff cited inconclusive evidence from traffic and crime studies conducted in comparable locations to substantiate neighbors' concerns of potential traffic jams, danger for bikes and pedestrians and an increase in crime.

"Ultimately, I have nothing against the Day Worker Center," Raciti said. "But our little street (Escuela Avenue) is already very congested. To add another business will be even more congesting."

Neighbors also maintain that the center, which has relocated three times since 1996, is a commercial operation and the lot's R2 zoning should prohibit its use as an employment hub.

Last week, council members determined the center is not a commercial operation but a community center, and therefore fits within zoning requirements.

Supporters who addressed the council described dayworkers as a staple of the community.

"It seems like (the opposition's concerns) are based more on fear than reality," said Mountain View resident Kermit Cuff. "I think (the center) will be an upgrade to the community."

Mountain View Director of Community Development Randy Tsuda said the center's résumé made granting the permit easier.

"If we were given an application for the center now without any history or track record, it would be a different story," Tsuda said.

The council granted the conditional-use permit with the prerequisite that the center host quarterly forums with neighbors during remodeling and subsequent operation to foster community relations. The center must also conduct a zoning administration hearing to review operations after one year.

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