Supervisors vote to eliminate day-laborer ordinance

An ordinance created two years ago to address the problem of day laborers darting into traffic and their employers’ vehicles congesting the streets of North Fair Oaks will be taken off the books, San Mateo County supervisors decided by a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The vote followed a report by Deborah Torres, director of prevention and early intervention services for the county, detailing the accomplishments of the Day Worker Program at the Multicultural Institute.

The program, which contracted with the county in 2006, has reduced complaints about day laborers to law enforcement by 67 percent, according to a county report.

The program also exceeded the goals set for it by county officials more than two years ago, registering 104 day laborers for work and matching 35 percent with jobs.

“For some, we may never really achieve success, but we have made great strides to incorporate the day workers into the North Fair Oaks community,” Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson said.

The Day Worker Program, Jacobs Gibson said, reduces traffic and loitering by deploying street outreach workers who match day laborers with employers and maintaining contact with both through cell phones and Internet access.

Beto Chavez, whose family owns Chavez Supermarket in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood, said the laborers are no longer a problem for his business.

“They’re more respectful of the customers and they’re more civil in the way they look for work,” he said.

Supervisor Rich Gordon said he initially had some concerns about voting to add a sunset clause to the ordinance that would allow it to expire June 30. Gordon said he was worried that if problems arose in the future, it would be difficult to readopt the ordinance.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Trisha Sanchez, however, said workers and motorists could be cited for problem behavior under existing codes.

tbarak@examiner.com

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