News

A new era dawns for Day Worker Center

 

The rain coming through the roof didn't seem to dampen anyone's spirits as the Day Worker Center of Mountain View entered a new era Tuesday afternoon with a groundbreaking ceremony for its first permanent home.

The once abandoned cinder block building at 113 Escuela Avenue might need a new roof and some windows before it can function as a Day Worker Center, but that didn't stop it from being filled Tuesday, May 25, with community leaders, day workers, volunteers and neighbors. People walked around puddles on the concrete floor and huddled under umbrellas as rain drifted down.

"We figured you'd feel bad for us and donate" money towards the renovation, joked pastor Bob Moran. He and several other community leaders spoke to the large crowd inside the center before the shovels came out for the ceremonial photo-op outside.

The center still needs to raise about $150,000 to have everything it needs to open up, but building permits have been issued and construction is expect to be finished in three to four months. Another $100,000 could provide quite a few "nice to haves," said Dave Luedtke, who designed and managed most of the project. Like many others who worked on the project, including some college students who designed the interior layout, Luedtke worked for free. Normally he would have charged about $70,000 for such a project, he said.

"The goal is to get a permanent place and a roof over our head, the rest is luxury," Luedtke said.

Despite the donated help, the project still has an overall budget of $940,000, $360,000 of which went towards purchasing the building in 2008. The renovation itself will cost only $360,000, but a long list of permit fees, a $25,000 traffic study and other expenses added up for the rest.

The center is used by 100 laborers everyday who hope to be matched up with employers, who are usually homeowners or contractors who need help with landscaping or construction projects. It is an alternative to waiting on the street for employers who may or may not pay a decent wage, though some day workers still congregate at the corner of San Antonio Road and El Camino Real. Dozens of volunteers have found meaningful work at the center itself, teaching English or serving lunch, for example.

It has been housed in various churches since it started in 1996, and currently is located at the Trinity United Methodist Church at the intersection of Hope and Mercy streets downtown.

Finding a permanent location is a relief for those involved with the center. The center "has always been unwanted, wherever they've been" said former mayor and state assembly member Sally Lieber last year.

Neighbors of the center's new location had threatened a lawsuit and signed a petition opposing it, claiming the center would increase crime, traffic and parking problems, and reduce property values in the neighborhood. The City Council approved the plan unanimously, however. Some neighbors who opposed the center have since become more supportive, says director Maria Marroquin, and some were seen mingling among the crowd at the groundbreaking.

Other cities are supportive of the center as well. The City of Palo Alto recently gave $63,000 towards the project and before that, Los Altos gave $75,000 and Los Alto Hills, $25,000. For its part, Mountain View is allowing the center to use a small piece of city-owned land next to the building for a parking lot rent-free for 40 years.

You might have heard the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child," but "to raise a community center it takes more than a village," said David's wife, Cindy Luedtke, who has been instrumental in fundraising for the project.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Let's see... a million bucks ($964,000).. I hope that is NOT an annual budget, most of which comes from Taxpayers of Los Altos, Mtn.View, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto..Gee, ya think that this is their way of keeping the "workers" out of their towns ? Gee Elmer, I think so.
That comes out to about $10,000.00 for each of the 100 "workers".. Why don't we save the congestion, the the neighborhood concerns and the maintenance on a building, and just givee each of them $800.00 or so each month, feel good about our generosity and move on, problem solved. Then they could apply for jobs, go to nite school and get real jobs.
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm glad to help anyone out.. how about paying Mtn.View residents in danger of losing their homes due to layoffs and downsizing.. $800.00 a month might well save a lot of homes and families.
When will our "feel good" efforts be replaced with "individual responsibility" and self reliance ???

geo.


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Let's see... a million bucks ($964,000).. I hope that is NOT an annual budget, most of which comes from Taxpayers of Los Altos, Mtn.View, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto..Gee, ya think that this is their way of keeping the "workers" out of their towns ? Gee Elmer, I think so.
That comes out to about $10,000.00 for each of the 100 "workers".. Why don't we save the congestion, the the neighborhood concerns and the maintenance on a building, and just givee each of them $800.00 or so each month, feel good about our generosity and move on, problem solved. Then they could apply for jobs, go to nite school and get real jobs.
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm glad to help anyone out.. how about paying Mtn.View residents in danger of losing their homes due to layoffs and downsizing.. $800.00 a month might well save a lot of homes and families.
When will our "feel good" efforts be replaced with "individual responsibility" and self reliance ???

geo.


Like this comment
Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

The article is quite, quite clear that the $964000 is the cost of the building itself, plus renovations, plus one-time permit and study fees.

I'm also looking forward to a detailed treatise on how providing a center for employees and employers to link up is a "feel good" effort, but the proposed alternative of giving away $800 per month to each of a 100 people encourages "individual responsibility" or "self reliance".


Like this comment
Posted by Elmer
a resident of Castro City
on May 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm

If you read the article a little more closely, you will see that it is not the annual budget.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Day workers should be asked to prove their legal status as citizens to work here or make use of this center. Federal laws should be enforced. Any one here illegally should be sent back from to their countries of origin. The City of Mountain View should be looking out for legal citizens.


Like this comment
Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Federal law IS enforced... by the people who are supposed to enforce it: federal officers. Take it up with them.

Local and state law enforcement have no right to enforce federal law, just the same federal officers have no right to try to enforce local laws.

I hate when people like 'Joe' spout off about law enforcement but know nothing about it. Immigration law can only be prosecuted and pursued by FEDERAL officers. Look it up.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr. DePortum
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm

It could be converted to a deportation station for a one way ticket to mexico.


Like this comment
Posted by SoundsGoodJohn
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 28, 2010 at 12:17 am

I'll leave the debate about federal enforcement of immigration laws for another day... this is not a right/left issue, as neither party has shown progress on immigration reform or securing our borders. However, I am not sure I see the role of a day-laborer center except to circumvent local, state and federal laws regarding contracting and employment. Licensed contractors would be employers under state and federal law and would be required to verify workers employability... is access to the SSN verification database provided at the site for contractors? Homeowners, likewise would be considered employers if they hire anyone not in their immediate family or a licensed subcontractor to do the work... what assurances are us homeowners given then we are hiring people legally? Are homeowners being counseled on the risks of operating as an owner/builder on projects? The liability they are exposing themselves to by employing people within their primary residence without workers comp insurance? Does the day workers center confirm contractors are providing workers compensation insurance to the laborers? While it may not be Mountain View's responsibility to enforce immigration law, it should certainly not be in the business of circumventing employment and contracting law. Further, the city of mountain view is exposing itself to litigation for when (not if) someone does get injured and is not covered under workers comp or homeowners insurance (either sued by the worker, or the homeowner, or even the homeowner's insurer). This center should not exist... it is doing a disservice to the majority of Mountain View residents, and undermining the business interests of those licensed contractors that choose to obey the law.


Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm

In my view, complaining about illegal immigrants is a bit like complaining about illegal drugs -- we are always ready to blame the foreigners, but do nothing on our end to stop demand, which is the real source of the problem.

How many of you "Mr. DePortum" types hire Mexican laborers to come blow your leaves around twice a week? How many of you frequent restaurants where they cook your food -- or for that matter buy your produce at Safeway? (the vast majority of which is picked by illegal laborers from South America)

Look in the mirror, I say.


Like this comment
Posted by twoSidesToSupplyandDemand
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Sorry... the vast majority of people do NOT hire illegals nor do illegal drugs. If you hire a lawn-care company to take care of your yard, you should check that the company has a business license (I know I do when I hire people). That way, when you hire a company, the responsibility lies with the employer, not the customer... it is their livelihood on the line (or at least should be). There is a reason most people outside of California mow their own lawns or hire the neighbor kid to do so... running a business is expensive, what with workers comp, payroll taxes, benefits and income tax. It is simply too expensive for most people to justify where rates are not artificially kept down with illegal labor. These are not jobs Americans are too lazy to do, they are jobs Americans are not willing to pay alot for... there is a difference. If you would post a list of restaurants you know to employ illegals, I will gladly stay away and even forward the information to ICE if I really like the food! As for buying produce at the market? I've never met a non-politician clamoring for deportation that does not STRONGLY support cracking down on the employers as well. Most of us have way too many things going on in our lives to check the supply chain of our local grocery store before buying a product... I expect that some of our taxes could be used for that.


Like this comment
Posted by User Beware
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 30, 2010 at 7:25 am

A friend of mine hired some illegal workers to clean his gutters. One fell and hurt his knee. He was dropped off at Stanford and spent three nights there following surgery. Now that same illegal is on sort of state disability paid for by us and has got a lawyer to go after more. It's a matter of time before them come after my friend the homeowner.

Also, if you eat in restaurants where illegals work you are putting your health at risk. The restaurant owner made that decision to do so when he knowingly hired them. You'd vomit if you saw the crammed, filthy conditions many of them live in along California Ave where unethical landlords, mostly from out of town, allow many of them to live crowded and poorly maintained conditions. I know, I've visited some of these apartments and it convinced me to never eat in the restaurants where the people living in these apartments work.


Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

Two Sides:

We seem to be in agreement here. I don't think consumers should have to track down the history of all employers' workers either. But the fact is, as you put it perfectly: "There is a reason most people outside of California mow their own lawns or hire the neighbor kid to do so... It is simply too expensive for most people to justify where rates are not artificially kept down with illegal labor."

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of gardening services you see in the yellow pages are perfectly legit. Yet their rates are still kept artificially low, apparently through the use of illegal labor. So there is a disconnect here -- many people are willing to the beat the drums against illegal immigrants, but the very fabric of their economy, from landscaping to the produce at Safeway (as a Central Valley native I have first-hand knowledge of this), is built on their labor.

I don't know if the individual consumer, or even the small-time landscaper, can deal with this. (I suspect Safeway could, if they wanted to.) But the heart of the matter lies here, and our problem, societally, is hypocrisy.

"These are not jobs Americans are too lazy to do, they are jobs Americans are not willing to pay alot for... there is a difference." Excellent distinction! I'd like to see this line get used more often.


Like this comment
Posted by Fer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 2, 2010 at 9:02 am

Beware user,

I have bad news for you! There will be no more eating out for you my friend!

"Also, if you eat in restaurants where illegals work you are putting your health at risk."

fer


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