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Half Moon Bay planning commission approves farmworker housing downtown

Updated  May 15, 2024 5:14am PDT



Affordable housing community for senior farmworkers divides Half Moon Bay

Dozens packed a city meeting in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday, where the community is divided over an affordable housing project for senior farmworkers. Gov. Newsom is urging city leaders to approve the plan that would bring 40 units of living space to the city.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - The planning commission in Half Moon Bay met for a third time to discuss building a housing project for senior farmworkers.

On Tuesday night, the commission decided to approve new farmworker housing with recommendations that include a reduction in building height and a change in the bedroom-unit mix.

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently called on the commission to approve the plan after weeks of delay involving the project’s design.

After the mass shooting last year, Half Moon Bay and the Governor said they wanted to prioritize building farmworker housing. Some in the community were pushing for the project to move forward and others said its design is too big for an already crowded area.

"We have an obligation to put this city on the best legal footing and make sure that we follow the law as the Governor has asked us," said Rick Hernandez, a member of the Half Moon Bay planning commission.

Dozens of people attended Tuesday night’s planning commission meeting to see if the commission would approve a 40-unit senior housing project for farmworkers.

"It’s a big necessity for everybody on the coast. We don’t have that much housing, so that’s why we are here," said Rocio Avila, an ALAS (Ayudando Latinos a Soñar) Housing Committee member.

ALAS, a farmworker advocacy group, and Mercy Housing say they’ve been working on the project for over two years.

If approved by the commission and the city, it’ll be located downtown at 555 Kelly Ave. However, the proposed size of the housing project, loss of parking and added congestion is a concern for some people.

"We have way too much going on down here. We have schools, churches, a Boys and Girls Club down here. It’s just not the right space for that," said Jennifer Moore, a business owner on Kelly Ave.

"Everybody has a car. This is a car-dependent community, and they’re going to have to drive around looking for parking," said Cid Young, of Moss Beach.

The planning commission explained that its meetings are held to gather important information and the time it takes is simply a part of the approval process.

"Well, there’s always reasons not to build something somewhere. People will always find that reason, but we really have to look at who we’re building this for. The most vulnerable, our senior farmworkers, who have dedicated their lives and physical health to us. So honestly, how can we say no?" said Belinda Hernandez Arriaga, ALAS Founder & Executive Director.

The state’s Housing Accountability Unit says it will hold Half Moon Bay accountable if the project does not move forward as state law requires.

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