The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday May 27th

Carrboro re-examines anti-lingering ordinance

For day laborers in Carrboro, the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads is the gateway to finding work every day.

And though workers can only linger near the intersection between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. based on a 2007 ordinance, Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen discussed on Tuesday plans to change that.

At the meeting, the board unanimously agreed that the ordinance should be revoked.

Aldermen passed the 2007 anti-lingering ordinance in response to resident complaints that laborers at the corner urinated, littered and harassed people passing by.

Though the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the ordinance’s legality shortly after it was passed; no legal action was ever taken.

Debate about the ordinance was revisited when the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sent a letter to the town attorney Michael Brough on June 17.

In the letter, coalition members said the ordinance violates laborers’ First Amendment right to gather in a public place.

The letter said the ordinance discriminates against the predominantly Latino workers, and that the day laborers have said the ordinance stops them from finding work.

“In this very difficult economic time, the ordinance makes it even harder for day laborers to find work,” said Christopher Brook, attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison said that since the ordinance was enacted, the number of complaints about the day laborers has decreased.

But they said a new plan to combat the problem should be put in place before that happens.

Mayor Mark Chilton said the rule allows laborers to find work in the morning and is acceptable.

“It is perhaps a little more restrictive than would be desirable.”

He said he thinks there is a better solution to the problem.

Board members said that in the long term, the town hopes to build a day laborer center.

But for now, the board has proposed three alternatives to the ordinance to control the area.

Those options include having a staff person, either a member of a local civic organization or a town employee, to patrol the area for safety and to help laborers find work.

The board also suggested creating a no-stop zone at the intersection to make it illegal for employers to stop there to pick up workers.

The board also might limit hours that employers can pick up laborers.

“Day laborers need to be helped, but there are negative consequences of large groups of men standing around with nothing to do,” Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said.

The Board of Aldermen will discuss the ordinance again at a November meeting.

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