The push to drive day laborers out of Campbell has been met with mixed results, with the latest police efforts giving indication that the issue may never completely be resolved.
After police pushed workers from their post in front of Home Depot on East Hamilton Avenue, day laborers made their way down the street to a Rotten Robbie gas station. Now the move has been to Burger King on the corner of Hamilton and South Winchester Boulevard.
The relocation hasn’t caused the same stir it has in the past, but Campbell police say it is still too early to tell if the issue has been resolved.
“We’re certainly seeing smaller numbers and not receiving complaints,” Capt. Dave Dehaan said, adding that only Burger King management has contacted Campbell police. “I’m a little surprised. There doesn’t seem to be the same negative impact there as it has elsewhere.”
Burger King is putting up “no trespassing and no soliciting signs,” Dehaan said, but aside from that there have been no other action from patrons, motorists or residents in the two months since the relocation.
“I think that we have remedied the problem, and we may need to support Burger King when they get their signs,” Dehaan said. “But the numbers have gotten fewer as [day laborers] were moving farther away.”
Dehaan downplayed other factors — such as the winter months — as playing a role in the decreased numbers
“Even when we had bad weather in previous years, that would discourage some, but as soon as the rain let up, they would be right back up again,” Dehaan said. “Those who have been hiring day laborers have realized that they can’t do that — there’s just been less hiring going on.”
Day laborers initially moved from their Home Depot location partly because of the store’s proximity to Highway 17. Campbell police were able to use a state vehicle code that states it is illegal to solicit or attempt to solicit employment from a driver of a vehicle while standing on a sidewalk within 500 feet of a freeway on-ramp or off-ramp to cite laborers soliciting work.
At Rotten Robbie, police efforts were driven by customer and resident complaints of the 100-odd day laborers who would gather around the property throughout the day. Tom Robinson, head of Robinson Oil, the company that owns and operates Rotten Robbie gas stations, said the issue is complaint-driven and police were only called upon when there was a nuisance.
With that not being the case at Burger King, Robinson said police may not have the same presence they had at Rotten Robbie.
“I tend to think that the city has an approach that seems to be reasonably effective and I expect they will use it as they need to,” he said, adding that the economic crisis may play a role in the decreased hiring activities.
Meanwhile, new Mayor Jane Kennedy sees the issue as far from over.
“It’s an issue no matter how we look at it, something we have to deal with,” Kennedy said. “We know they need to work and want to work, but there are other ways to work other than to stand on corners.”
Kennedy said she hoped the move to Burger King would not be a “final solution,” and sees the only way to put the issue to rest is to provide a center for day laborers to find work.
She added, “the city can’t afford it, and property owners can’t do it, so until we have someone willing to, what else are we going to do?”