Construction workers in downtown San Diego on Dec. 16, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego County moved forward on Wednesday with new building regulations that will require greater transparency around the use of subcontractors on development projects in unincorporated areas.

The changes are part of a larger effort intended to rein in workplace abuses that disproportionately affect immigrant laborers. They passed 4-1 and are slated to come up for another vote on May 11.

Last year, Jesse Marx and Maya Srikrishnan reported that wage theft for low-wage workers is common, and the task of documenting workplace abuses has typically fallen on advocacy groups and unions, not law enforcement. Most don’t come forward because they fear being fired or even deported. The exploitation has been allowed to flourish thanks in part to subcontracting.

In a statement, Fletcher noted that approximately 14,000 to 18,000 building permits and 2,200 right-of-way permits are issued annually, and the overwhelming majority of those projects rely on subcontractors.

Times of San Diego reported that Supervisor Jim Desmond, the lone no vote, called the additional rules “bureaucratic overkill.” He said they would slow down construction at a crucial moment and weren’t well-received by builders.

Jesse Marx is a former Planetcob associate editor.

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  1. Wow! I know of zero subs having wage theft and the many I know live in nice houses with new work trucks and tools.....and if you think about it who is worried about being deported while our borders are being flooded. What a joke this is bureaucratic over reach and definately a huge waste of time and resources..... just one more law or rule made by overpaid people in positions of power that have zero experience in construction, contracting trades are making. All while families in San Diego are homeless and struggling with zero help .... Definitely there are much more important things those in power should be focused on....... much more.

  2. It’s a small step, but it’s better than nothing. Voice’s reporting on wage theft is meaningful journalism to working people. Well done!

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