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Laborer laws are on hold

City Council is keeping an eye on how court case in Redondo Beach plays out.

June 15, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — City attorneys this week said they planned to wait to revise the city's day-laborer-related regulations after an appellate court upheld a previously struck-down version in Redondo Beach.

In a 2-1 decision last week, a three-judge panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Redondo Beach law prohibiting day laborers from soliciting work from motorists in the public right-of-way. A lower court four years ago had sided with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in ruling that the ban violated free-speech rights.

Representatives for the same organization said they plan to petition for a rehearing of the case with a larger panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court.


"We look forward to the en banc Ninth Circuit vindicating this right like so many other federal judges who have struck down similar anti-day-laborer ordinances," Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement.

Glendale had a similar ban on the books for commercial zones until 2008, when the City Council revised the ordinance after losing a civil lawsuit brought by the same laborer's rights organization that challenged the Redondo Beach ban.

Per the agreement with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the council in 2008 voted to allow solicitation from parkways and to motorists who pull up to the curb out of the way of traffic lanes, both of which were not allowed under the original 1994 ban.

On Monday, City Atty. Scott Howard said he was working on a recommendation to the City Council that it hold off on discussing potential revisions to the ordinance until the case runs its course in the court system.

"At this point, I think it's important we wait to see when or if the decision becomes final," he said. "And if it does, we will advise the council accordingly on the options that are open."

Mayor Ara Najarian agreed that it would be premature to make any revisions to the city's regulations based on last week's ruling.

"Right now, we're sort of in a holding pattern because we just don't know if that decision is going to go forward," he said.

Officials also support an alternative with the subsidized labor center on San Fernando Road across the street from Home Depot, where crowds of laborers seeking work have created friction with nearby residents and customers who use the parking lot.

Operated by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles Inc., the labor center guarantees a minimum $8-an-hour wage, restrooms, water and telephone access, and a waiting room for workers seeking contractors and other potential employers, said program coordinator Juan Rodriguez.

Still, center officials often have to try to recruit the dozens of workers who remain skeptical of the center and prefer soliciting work from sidewalks.

"It's safe as opposed to being out on the sidewalk, which is not really conducive for them to find work, and also is not good for the overall look of the community," Rodriguez said.


See Mailbag, A5

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