Drivers hiring workers must pull off road; limits also placed on locations
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
andy Springs can’t do anything about the day laborers lingering at major Roswell Road intersections, hoping that a passing car will bring work.
That’s because anyone can be in the public right of way. Plus, the upscale city has admitted it has — and needs — those kinds of workers by adopting a new local law that focuses more on traffic than its does the people on the sidewalk.
“We are not stopping anyone from seeking employment or from hiring,” councilman Rusty Paul said. “We are just trying to be smart about safety.”
The problem has come from the traffic jams — and risks to pedestrians — created when a driver stops to offer work. Police Chief Terry Sult said the workers will ignore traffic in their rush to land a job, creating hazards and sudden stops on some of the city’s most heavily traveled roads.
In some cases, the workers swarm around a potential employer so quickly it blocks traffic completely, Sult said.
So under the new law, the city will fine any driver who doesn’t pull off and park to hire the workers. The citation is $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 and up to three months in jail for the third.
“There is an orderly way to do things,” Sult said. “We can’t have people slamming on their brakes because someone in front of them decides to stop and hire someone.”
The city weighed the issue for a month before approving it Tuesday. No one spoke out against the measure, and some churches have even signaled they approve of the push for safety.
The new law does limit where people can solicit work. The laborers face the same fines for being on private property, such as parking lots, unless the owners give permission.
The laborers also have to stay 300 feet away from freeway ramps, city attorney Wendell Willard said.
That distance — that of a football field — should keep traffic on busy I- 285 and Ga. 400 moving, he added.
Traffic flow, and the hiring process, would also run more smoothly with more job centers.
City officials said they hope the new law will encourage more of the hiring centers like the one that Holy Spirit Catholic Church opened on Northwoods Drive earlier this year.
There, workers register for jobs daily and the staff helps keep track of there comings and goings as a way to protect them from being mistreated. Plans are also under way to offer language classes for workers as they wait.
“I am very proud of our community for doing this,” Mayor Eva Galambos said. “We are doing the right thing by everyone.”