By JOHN EARL
Note: This article was originally published in the OC Voice Oct. 2007 print edition. It is reprinted here because it relates to Joe Shaw’s column about the banning of street signs by the Huntington Beach City Council. His column focused on the economic consequences, this article focuses on the related constitutional issues at they played out in the city of Costa Mesa. Also read Shaw’s column here.
Costa Mesa day laborers looking for work on street corners at two separate locations in the city, Placentia Avenue and 17th Street, and Placentia Avenue and Victoria Street, say that city police are routinely harassing them and making it difficult for them to find employment.
Almost without exception, workers at both corners who were interviewed by the OC Voice on three separate occasions during September claimed that police routinely—from once in a while to several times a week—approached them while they were standing on sidewalks or in parking lots and told them, sometimes without giving a reason, that they had to leave the area, sometimes threatening them with tickets or even arrest if they returned.
Costa Mesa Chief of Police Christopher Shawkey says that his officers are only enforcing a city ordinance that prohibits anyone from soliciting employment, commercial, or charitable transactions on public streets in a manner that distracts motorists and creates a potential safety hazard, and that prohibits the same types of solicitation in private parking lots where the owners have posted signs banning those activities. (more…)