Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
UPLAND – The group of day laborers who once stood in the Home Depot parking lot to wait for work have moved their location to the sidewalk along Mountain Avenue.
The Upland City Council approved a no-trespassing ordinance in March to give businesses an extra hand in preventing people from congregating in their parking lots without the owners’ permission.
Within the past few weeks a larger group of day laborers has been seen standing within the public right of way.
“Actually what might be the issue is on the property they scattered in groups where they would blend in with pers,” said Robin Hvidston, member of the Minuteman project. “It may just be that the visibility of the numbers are now apparent because they’re standing together.”
The property owner, Home Depot manager and city have all expressed opposition to the now established day laborer site, Hvidston said.
“The consensus is, `we do not want loitering or trespassing,’ but of course there are other federal issues involved,” Hvidston said. “It’s very complicated.”
The ordinance allows business owners to post “no trespassing” signs on their property. Any violators can be removed by the Upland Police Department at the owner’s request, said Sgt. Cliff Mathews, public information officer with the Upland Police Department.
People are allowed to stand on the sidewalk because it’s public property, but they are not allowed to block the right of way, he said.
“I think this ordinance has been successful, but again the strength of it is that the owner of the center or business has to call the police, so if they’re not going to do that then it’s only going to be as strong as their participation,” Mayor John Pomierski said.
Hvidston informed the City Council during Monday’s meeting about her recent encounters with people selling ows outside of Coco’s restaurant on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
Selling ows in parking lots within the city is not acceptable, Pomierski said.
“There are people that pay money to have business licenses and when they sell their products there’s a markup on it because fees are being paid,” Pomierski said. “That’s the cost of being in business and when people are selling stuff at the curb, including labor at a ed rate, it’s not a level playing field.”
The possible increase in day labor and vendor activity could be due to the poor economy, Pomierski said.
“It’s affecting all walks of life from the top and down,” Pomierski said. “It’s going to affect (day laborers) as well. They’re just looking for more avenues for exposure.”
Juan Rodriguez of Ontario was among a dozen men sitting along the curb in front of Home Depot on Mountain Avenue on Tuesday.
Rodriguez, a construction worker, has filled out more than 100 job applications, but did not receive a single call back, he said.
Rodriguez said he hopes someone will hire him to do yard work or to help with moving.
“If I make $50 it’s better than nothing,” he said. “We come here because we need food. I’m legal. I can work, but there is nothing. I’m not asking for handout.”