Worker center plan still angers neighbors

'We're just discussing the design' committee chair tells residents

The city's Design Review Committee maintained its composure during a tense meeting on Dec. 18 as residents living near of the site of a planned Day Worker Center continued to express their outrage.

"Can you have a seat please," said chair Nancy Minicucci to a man who stood up to interrupt. "We're just discussing the design."

A half dozen neighbors showed up who oppose putting a new Day Worker Center at 113 Escuela Ave., even though the committee couldn't address their concerns. (The city's zoning administrator will decide whether to approve a conditional use permit in February.) The project is a remodel of a long-vacant 3,496-square-foot cinderblock building bought by the center for $300,000 earlier this year.

Neighbors used the word "unacceptable" to describe the project several times, and complained that it would lower their property values.

"People are going to say, 'I don't want to be here -- this is not where I want to raise my children,'" said neighbor Dean Birney.

Neighbor Brad Kellar said the lot was zoned for residential, and that the Day Worker Center "corporation" should find an industrial neighborhood. Minicucci said community center-type uses are also acceptable on Escuela Avenue, where the city also has its Senior Center.

"Why don't you just build residences?" said Birney, who added that he was against "human trafficking."

"We live here -- this is our home."

The neighbors complained about a large sign proposed the front of the facility which would list the center's fax number and Web site address. There were other proposals they also didn't like: a bike rack large enough to hold 32 bikes, the lack of a front porch, a lack of parking and a bench that made the area look like a "bus stop."

Day Worker Center board president Robin Iwai disagreed with the neighbors, saying the project would "remodel and upgrade" an eyesore building. "I can't see how that would be anything but an improvement."

Not every neighbor opposed the project.

"When I first moved to the neighborhood I thought it was a curious looking building," said Steve Chandler. "Already it looks better" from being cleaned up, he said. "I'm real in support of this."

The committee, which is made up of two architects and a city planner, went on to make numerous recommendations to make the plan look less "industrial" and more "residential."

"If this is going to work better with the neighborhood it needs to have a concept of a front porch with a more welcoming [front door," said Linda Poncini. "This door is not appropriate."

The committee architects recommended that the "industrial" style awning in the plan be replaced by trellis. Architect Larry Cannon said good landscaping would be the key to producing a residential look.

The center's architect, David Luedtke, said the center was hoping to achieve LEED certification for the building.

The Day Worker Center is currently located at Trinity United Methodist Church at the corner of Hope and Mercy streets downtown. It houses about 100 workers every day.

For more information, see


Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 30, 2008 at 11:40 am

From the FAQ on the web site:

Could I get in any trouble for using a worker who does not have proper documentation?
Information about employers who hire workers at the Center of employers is private and will never be shared with any government agency.

Do I need to report the wages I pay for tax purposes?
Employers who hire workers for 3 days or less do not need to report wages or pay taxes.

Disgusting. They don't even try to hide their illegal activities. Even if some of the workers are legal, this is just plain wrong. The people that run the center should be thrown in prison.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. DePortum
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 30, 2008 at 3:37 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Why don't you all stop fretting about some poor immigrant trying to support his family and carve out some kind of living in this area by making (if he's lucky) $8/hour under the table or illegally or whatever, and START A PETITION and STAND UP AND SPEAK UP against Congress giving themselves another underserving raise.

Why don't you START A PETITION and STAND UP AND SPEAK UP against the property owners out here keeping the rents high in order to still keep their property values artificially inflated, like they were doing before the housing meltdown. Now if you'd do that instead of picking on some poor immigrant, then that would be constructive.

Like this comment
Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Sue, if there weren't so many illegals renting in Mt. View, high rents would come down. It's supply and demand, and like it or not it has everything to do with poor immigrants.

Like this comment
Posted by Ron Rico
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Have you ever thought how much of your american dollar leaves the country. You get the cheap labor they bring in the relatives. Not educated, undocumented, un inoculated. Now the economy is crap and crime is everywhere we dont even know who these people are. And they dont pay taxes on their wages. Just a bad deal all the way around. Then if you say anything you a raciest. You cant get a job in mexico unless your a mexican. Try an anchor baby there. When did the ins stop caring about who came in our country? Homeland security what a bunch of Crap. PUSH #1 for english.

Like this comment
Posted by Lawrence
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I would like to know why this side of town gets stuck with day labor centers, liquor stores, half-way houses, schools for troubled teens/adults while the other side of Mountain View, (east of Castro but not including the Churches), gets speed bumps, lovely new housing projects and corner parks?

How would the residents in that area or in the other "better" areas of Mountain View feel if a new day labor center was opening up in the midst of their pleasant neighborhood? How would they feel if they had to walk their kids by groups of men loitering in doorsteps? How would they feel if there was a constant coming and going of people and cars throughout the day? How would they feel if when they tried to sell their house but when potential buyers found out what was located a few doors down, they backed out? That's right...they wouldn't like it very much either.

I am in total agreement that a commercial center like the day labor center needs to be kept in a commercial zone...not a residential one.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 9, 2009 at 12:40 am

Lawrence -- This is a classic ploy that towns have used for year. If a they want to get rid of prostitutes, drug dealers, bums, or day laborers, they donate funds to another area to build something that will attract the undesirables. Funds from Los Altos and the "better" areas of Mountain View will help them get rid of the day laborers from their neighborhoods while still allowing them easy access to low-paid, non-union workers.

Like this comment
Posted by Lawrence
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Well I think it's an awful way of getting things done. The only recourse that neighborhood has is to really stand up for their rights and continue to use the argument that the area is NOT zoned for commercial use.
The more people come out and stand by this neighborhood, the better chance they will have of not getting that day labor center located in their area. It will show the city council that we refuse to get dumped on. There's plenty of free commercial space opening up on El Camino and other locations that are already commercial zones...let them go there.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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