Half Moon Bay farm to build permanent housing for workers after mass shooting
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - As investigators peeled back the layers into a mass shooting at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay, state and local officials uncovered cramped living conditions and allegations of low wages at the farms.
Now, one of those farms says it will build permanent housing as a way to boost the living conditions of its workers and their families.
"This decision came out after collaborative discussions with local officials that uncovered a series of code and permitting requirements unknown before the tragic shootings that occurred last week" said David Oates, spokesperson for mushroom farm California Terra Garden.
The announcement comes a week after a disgruntled employee allegedly opened fire last at California Terra Garden and nearby Concord Farms, killing seven people.
Some farmworkers had come forward to shed light on what they've had to endure at the farms, such as living in shipping containers and wooden shacks. Some of the single-room dwellings lacked running water and insulation, San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller said.
"The conditions farmworkers shared with the Governor — being paid $9 an hour and living in shipping containers — are simply deplorable," the governor's office said in a statement last week. "That is no way to live. California is investigating the farms involved in the Half Moon Bay shootings to ensure workers are treated fairly and with the compassion they deserve.
The housing project is expected to take a year to finish.
California Terra Garden said it is working with local leaders to provide employees and their families with affordable housing until the project is company.
"The company will also continue providing above-market wages and benefits to all its team members," the company said.
Chunli Zhao, the accused gunman in the mass shooting, had long-standing workplace disputes with California Terra Garden and his previous employer Concord Farms, authorities said. One dispute was over a $100 repair bill stemming from a crash involving equipment. Prosecutors said that bill might have triggered him to carry out the attacks.