Day-laborer center stalled a year later

A plan to bring a new day-laborer center to Bayshore Boulevard, touted by city officials as a way to alleviate the growing number of workers on César Chávez Street, has been met with a series of logistical obstacles, leaving its future in doubt.

Last March, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office announced the plan for the new center, saying that it would be a hiring point, as well as a training center. Day laborers, who are frequently immigrants, are hired on a temporary basis for such jobs as construction or landscaping.

However, the owner of the plot, located at Bayshore Boulevard and Waterloo Street, would only agree to a month-to-month lease, a situation city officials did not feel comfortable complying with, according to City Administrator Edwin Lee, the official charged with putting together the new center.

With that location nixed, Lee said he has been looking for other sites nearby, but so far all land inquiries have been unsuccessful.

Funding sources for the project have also been difficult to ascertain, said Lee, who expects the center to cost The City approximately $50,000 a year if it is ever completed.

“I’m still optimistic,” Lee said. “But there is a struggle with resources. We don’t have a whole bunch to automatically throw at it.”

Newsom, who last March called the Bayshore Boulevard plan a “win for the day laborers and a win for the neighbors,” continues to support the idea of a new center, his spokesman Joe Arellano said.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, whose district would house the new center, expressed hesitation about the plan.

“We’re really trying to clean up that area,” said Maxwell. “The question has to be asked if this is the direction we want to go in. Until a concrete plan is developed, I’m going to real wary of a new center at that location.”

San Francisco’s only current day-laborer center is located at 3358 César Chávez St. Operated by nonprofit La Raza Centro Legal and funded in part by city grants, the center is frequented daily by 150-200 workers, said management coordinator Joel Aguiar. Only about 10 workers a day receive jobs through the sign-in service, Aguiar said.

The rest wait — often on the street — for potential employers to come to them.

Carlos Gomez, a painter and construction worker who uses the existing day-laborer center, but also goes to the street for jobs, said any additional hiring points in The City would be a help.

“What we really need is more jobs, but another center would be good for the workers too,” said Gomez.

wreisman@examiner.com

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