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Council to Discuss Day Laborers

A series of proposals to deal with day laborers who crowd a downtown Moorpark street corner every day will come before the City Council tonight.

Council members and local business owners have suggested possible solutions for the laborers who congregate in front of the market at High Street and Spring Road.

The merchants complain the men are scaring off customers, harassing women with catcalls as they walk by, and relieving themselves on local buildings and bushes. The laborers say they are just looking for work and are being tagged by the actions of a few bad apples. City Council members say they are in the middle--unsure what they can do to clean up the situation while protecting the workers’ constitutional rights.

Councilman Bernardo Perez wants to move the men to a city-owned warehouse about a block from the corner market. Although the new site would have bathrooms and is screened from the street by landscaping and a fence, several business owners say the move would only make matters worse.

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“This would be just another kick in the pants for High Street businesses,” hardware store owner Dan Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he and other business owners were hurting because of other city mistakes in dealing with the city’s historic downtown, and moving the workers would make matters worse.

“Why is the city trying to deal with this, isn’t this a state issue?” he said. “The state [Employment Development Department] is the agency that should be trying to find jobs for these men, it’s not the city’s responsibility.”

The City Council met in early May with merchants and day laborers.

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At that meeting ideas for dealing with the problem were discussed, including cracking down on the illegal immigrants among those on the corner seeking work, pushing all the men out by enacting an ordinance against gathering on the street to solicit work, and providing an alternative site--complete with bathrooms, phone and job board--for the laborers.

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 at City Hall, 799 Moorpark Ave.


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