Chandler deters day laborers - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

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Chandler deters day laborers

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Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 11:17 am

A push to drive day laborers and the contractors who hire them off downtown Chandler streets began Monday with lukewarm results.

City workers posted nearly 100 "no-parking" and "nostopping" signs, and specially assigned police officers issued warnings to drivers who stopped.

But still, at least 100 day laborers lined Arizona Avenue and adjacent streets between Chandler Boulevard and Pecos Road on Monday morning waiting for work instead of going to a nearby day labor center city officials encourage them to use.

"It appeared like there were less people," said Leah Powell, the city’s liaison to the Human Relations Commission. "But it’s hard to say this early."

It wasn’t hard for Pastor Jose Gonzalez to say. He runs the church-sponsored Light and Life Day Labor Center barely a block away from where many workers congregate.

"It’s about the same today," he said. "Not real different."

The parking restrictions are part of an effort to rid downtown of the day labor practice as city and business leaders have plans for redeveloping the area now that Loop 202 connects Arizona Avenue to the Valley’s freeway system to the south.

Early this year, the Chandler Human Relations Commission presented a report to the City Council that included a list of recommendations on how to alleviate the day labor problem downtown.

The recommendations revolved around encouraging workers and employers to use the day labor center, and one way to accomplish that goal was to prohibit motorists from stopping on Arizona Avenue.

Chandler is spending nearly $30,000 to start the campaign.

The no-stopping and noparking signs cost about $15,000, and two police officers assigned to the area from 4 to 9 a.m., six days a week, costs another $14,000 per month.

Police and city workers are also handing out fliers that explain the new restrictions and advertise the day labor center.

On Monday, police issued warnings to at least 25 people who stopped or parked along the avenue looking to hire workers.

"I think it’s going to take some time for people to get adjusted," Powell said.

She told the City Council last month that the restrictions would likely push some workers to other areas of town but expected the day labor center’s proximity to offset that.

Juan Hurta, 46, was using the day labor center Monday morning.

But Hurta said he was directed to the center by some people on Arizona Avenue after arriving from Mexico about six weeks ago.

He said he’s been using the center almost daily to find jobs on construction sites.

Many more workers preferred standing along the streets downtown, and trucks towing landscaping equipment could be seen picking up workers in a city-owned parking lot.

One man who declined to identify himself said he was waiting for a contractor he’s been working for for two years.

Their typical meeting spot is now clearly within the nostopping zone, which left the worker wondering if he would be working Monday.

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