SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
Large home improvement stores will be forced to build and maintain centers for day laborers under a law that is on the verge of being approved in Californiaâ??s biggest city.
The Los Angeles plan calls for home improvement businesses that are 100,000 square feet or larger to build waiting areas for day laborersâ??most of them illegal immigrantsâ??seeking work. The designated areas must be safe, cool and must have bathrooms.
While the measure has been largely kept quiet, it has quickly made its way through the Los Angeles City Council and a special committee (Housing, Community and Economic Development) is expected to return in 45 days with the details necessary to carry out the plan, especially cost.
The Community Development Department already operates eight day laborer sites throughout the sprawling city by using nearly $200,000 in grants. Now Los Angeles officials want businesses to pick up the tab for the day laborer centers or they may not be allowed to operate.
In fact, last month the city delayed the opening of a major home improvement store in a rundown area with a huge immigrant population because day laborers would be a problem. Many loiter in parking lots and adjacent neighborhoods and become disorderly, litter, urinate and consume alcohol.
Because it wants to do business in southern California, the home improvement chain has agreed to perhaps allocate space for day laborers but not pay for the ongoing costs of operating an actual center. Company officials have suggested diverting sales tax revenue from the stores to pay for gathering places. In other words, publicly fund the work centers for illegal immigrants.
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