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After long debate, Half Moon Bay approves farmworker housing project backed by Gov. Newsom

Wednesday, May 15, 2024



After an hours-long Half Moon Bay city planning meeting, a project backed by Gov. Newsom to build more housing for farmworkers is moving forward.


HALF MOON BAY (KGO) -- After a Half Moon Bay city planning meeting stretched late into the night, a project backed by Governor Gavin Newsom to build more housing for farmworkers is moving forward.


The Half Moon Bay Planning Commission debated for hours into early Wednesday morning as supporters of the project packed the meeting.


The plan is to build a five-story, 40 unit building where a house at 555 Kelley Avenue sits.


The project comes after last year's mass shooting that exposed the poor living conditions that farmworkers are forced into.


However, there has been some opposition and it is not a done deal yet.


"It's great that the planning commission approved this project although we aren't claiming victory yet," ALAS Farmworker Program Director Sandra Sencion said. "There's quite a few steps ahead."


Nonprofit ALAS and Mercy Housing have been working on the project that would be a mix of housing for senior farmworkers and include a resource center.


"We're going to have resources for the farmworkers that are going to be living here at 555 kelly with medical dental," Sencion said. "It's a prime location because you're able to walk to the clinic, to the church, to the grocery store."


Tuesday marked the third hours-long meeting the commission discussed and questioned the project including the parking, the type of resources, occupancy, and safety at a nearby intersection.


"Our questions are not about the importance of these services. We're trying to understand the land use. That's where we're going," Commissioner Rick Hernandez said.


It was initially approved by the City Council but stalled with the Planning Commission, which eventually approved the project at the meeting 4 to 1.


MORE: Half Moon Bay reflects on what changed 1 year after farmworkers killed in mass shooting


The push for housing comes after last year's mass shooting, the deadliest in San Mateo County's history. It killed seven workers on multiple farms and exposed the poor living conditions they are forced into.


Last week, Gov. Newsom threatened potential legal action against the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission, calling a delay to vote "egregious."


Half Moon Bay Mayor Joaquin Jimenez says the project wasn't delayed and it is just part of the process.


"I know they were accused of delaying the process but they were not," Mayor Jimenez said. "It's something that takes to develop Half Moon Bay. And I'm glad they came to a conclusion. It's looking into details, the size, the space, what is being proposed."


Before the project can move forward, it needs to be approved by the City Council.

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