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Newsom threatens Half Moon Bay with legal action over farmworker housing delay

Friday, May 10, 2024

Governor Newsom is threatening legal action if Half Moon Bay officials don't speed efforts to build more housing for farmworkers after deplorable housing conditions were highlighted following a 2023 mass shooting.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Governor Gavin Newsom is weighing on Half Moon Bay's effort to build more housing for farmworkers.

Newsom is threatening legal action if local officials don't speed things up in a major way.

"We are envisioning the fence is going to be broken down and this whole project is going to extend into that parking lot. We are going to have five stories here. You will only see the first four because the fifth story is going to be set back. On this spot, we are going to have a farmworker resource center," described Belinda Arriaga, ALAS founder and executive director.

Since 2022, Mercy Housing and ALAS have been pushing for 555 Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay to become the site for the first senior housing for farmworkers in the community.

After approval from Half Moon Bay's city council, the next step is the planning commission.

During a meeting on April 30, one of the commissioners asked:

"How long will it take for it to get built and do we have funding from an operational place to keep it going?"

A representative with Mercy Housing replied, "We have committed sources thus far from the city and the state for multiple levels of financing from this project. What we are seeking approvals on today will allow us to be eligible to apply for more financing that will become available from the state. We anticipate later this summer."

Looming over this community is the lack of farmworkers' housing and images of deplorable housing conditions highlighted after a mass shooting at two mushroom farms in 2023.

Housing for senior farmworkers is what many like retired farmworker Agustin Villalobos are asking for.

The mass shooting in Half Moon Bay exposed the deplorable living conditions that some farmworkers endured. Now, officials are looking for a solution.

"We have done a lot for this community and now it's time for the county to do something for us," said Villalobos.

After two meetings without a vote, Governor Newsom is now threatening to take legal action.

"We feel the support of Governor Newsom. It's critical and important to this project. We have been seeing the roadblocks that have been made. We are going on the third vote by the planning commission. It should have been an easy vote," said Arriaga.

In a statement, Governor Newsom is urging the commission to take action soon: "The Half Moon Bay Planning Commission has the opportunity to move this important housing project forward next week."

"It felt like an attack. Half Moon Bay has a priority to build farmworker housing, low-income housing," said Joaquin Jimenez, Mayor of Half Moon Bay.

Jimenez views the Planning Commission's process as necessary.

Luz Pena: "Do you think the process is taking too long?"

"It's adequate time," said Jimenez, "If he is really interested in building farmworker housing - help us fund it. We will make great use of those funds to buy property in Half moon Bay so we can build more farmworkers housing. Help us expedite the permits."

The planning commission is set to meet again on May 14.

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