Federal court ruling frees Redondo Beach police to cite day laborers

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A federal appeals court ruling frees Redondo Beach police to enforce a 23-year-old local law that prohibits day laborers from seeking jobs on the city's streets.

The divided panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court decision that had prohibited Redondo Beach police from enforcing the ordinance. City officials said the ordinance would help ensure traffic safety and reduces nuisance crimes.

The appeals court said the law was a reasonable answer to traffic congestion that Redondo Beach officials say is caused by job seekers at city intersections.

The law was passed in the 1987 but enforced for the first time six years ago, when when Redondo Beach police ran an undercover sting that resulted in 60 day laborers getting cited.

The "Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach'' and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network challenged the ordinance in federal court. U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall decided against the city in 2004, and ruled that the law violated First Amendment free-speech rights.

The ordinance was originally modeled after a Phoenix ordinance upheld by the same court, which prohibits anyone from standing on a street or highway and trying to solicit employment or money from anyone in a motor vehicle.

KPCC's Nick Roman contributed audio to this report.