Day Labor Center Protests Eviction Saying Public Drinking And Urination In Parking Lot Isn't Tied To Them

A still from a security cam appears to show a man peeing in the bushes of a large commercial lot where the CARECEN Day Labor Center operates. The center says the footage is unrelated to their laborers who have a restroom to use. (Courtesy of Wilshire-Union Center LP)

Jorge Nicolas spent a good part of a recent morning reviewing security footage used to justify the eviction of the non-profit CARECEN Day Labor Center in Westlake that he runs.

The Central American Resource Center has negotiated job protections for day laborers out of a small building on the southeast end of a massive commercial lot for 15 years. As it stands, they're under orders to be out by Jan. 17.

Why?

The lot's owners, a partnership called Wilshire Union Center, have cited security videos taken in recent days that show people drinking alcohol in the parking lot and urinating in the bushes.

In a statement, the owners called that videotape evidence the center has "threatened the safety of day laborers and those who visit and work at the Property."

A still from a security camera shows police activity near the Home Depot. The big box stores shares a parking lot with the CARECEN Day Labor Center operates. (Courtesy of Courtesy of Wilshire-Union Center LP)

THE DEFENSE

Nicolas says that the footage has nothing to do with his day labor center.

"That's in front of the Home Depot," he said of one clip. "And that's the Food4Less," he pointed at another, "you can tell because of the carts."

A lawyer for Wilshire Union said the center isn't doing enough to deter this kind of behavior, and that his client has "generously let the center operate rent free" for nearly two decades.

Nicolas said he can't control what happens on the 200,000-square-foot lot that also includes a Home Depot, a Food4Less and several other shops. "None of [the video footage] is from here," he noted. "We have a bathroom for our workers."

In a statement, Wilshire Union said it "is willing to have another charitable organization operate the day laborer center to better assist the day laborers without endangering them and others." They said they have reached out to Councilman Gil Cedillo's office for guidance in finding a new operator.

But Nicolas is still hoping for a resolution that would halt the eviction. "We're still trying to work with the owner," he said. "We believe we can work this out [and] find solutions together. We can come together as a community, you know, because they're part of the community as well."

UPDATES:

Thursday, Jan. 15, 4:02 p.m.: We've updated the headline on this story to better reflect the position of the CARECEN Day Labor Center. It previously read: After Cameras Capture Public Drinking And Urination In Parking Lot, A Day Labor Center Faces Eviction.

We've also updated the photo captions to reflect their position that the behavior captured on camera was unrelated to their center.

This article was originally published at Jan. 14 at 3:15 p.m.