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California vs Half Moon Bay: Joaquín Jiménez responds "attack" by Gavin Newsom

California vs Half Moon Bay
California vs Half Moon Bay: Joaquín Jiménez, mayor of Half Moon Bay, responded to what he noted as attacks by California Governor Gavin Newsom against him and the officials of this city, on the issue of the housing project for agricultural workers. Photo: P360P

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On May 9, Gavin Newsom criticized the city of Half Moon Bay, particularly the Planning Commission, for delaying a real estate project that involves the construction of housing for agricultural workers; Faced with this reproach, Joaquín Jiménez, mayor of Half Moon Bay, responded to what he pointed out as attacks by the governor of California against him and the officials of this city. 

Jiménez, who is Mexican by birth and the son of farmers, in addition to having a long history of community work in Half Moon Bay, responded to what was said by Newsom, who declared in a statement that ?Local authorities are paralyzing a 40-unit plan for low-income seniors?

The project he refers to consists of the construction of 40 homes for older agricultural workers on a property located at 555 Kelly Avenue, next to the Church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar. 

The governor of California highlighted that the Commission's delay comes after the deadly shooting on January 23 of last year, where seven Half Moon Bay farmworkers lost their lives due to a mass shooting, which highlighted "the terrible living conditions of agricultural workers in the area?

In an interview for Peninsula 360 Press, Jiménez regretted the attacks and threats of Governor Newsom who, he assures, is unaware of the process of this case. 

?This is an attack because it is a threat, saying that if the Half Moon Bay commission does not approve the development of this new building for housing for farmers, I am going to sue them and he, without knowing the process we are following, spoke before time, he could have waited until May 14?, Jiménez assured.

According to Newsom, "instead of doing the right thing and approving much-needed housing for the workers who feed us, a 40-unit complex for low-income seniors is being stalled by local officials." 

This delay, Newsom said, "is egregious and endangers the well-being of Californians."

Given this, Jiménez explained that the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission is not deliberately delaying the 40-home project; on the contrary, it has always been concerned about agricultural workers.

?There has been talk that the city is against housing conditions for farmers and that is not true at all. We have been working hard to have those opportunities to build; We know that we need it for the community in general, so we cannot accuse the city of not caring about Latinos? he stressed.

The Planning Commission, Jiménez assured, has not made a decision yet, it is just doing its job, and therefore, it follows due process, which should be known to Governor Newsom. 

?The commission hasn't really made a decision. The commission has not presented the decision. What he has done is listen to the community, is this the process that is carried out? Jiménez emphasized. 

As part of this process, commented the mayor of Half Moon Bay, two meetings have been held to listen to the community's voice: the first took place on April 23 and the second on April 30. However, it will not be until May 14 when the Commission will make its decision. 

At these meetings, people spoke for and against the construction project. To Jiménez's surprise, among those who oppose this project is the Catholic Church. 

?It is part of the process and you have to listen to those who are against it, to the people who have spoken about the community and to the neighbors. I am truly surprised with the Catholic Church; sent two representatives to our last city meeting to say that they were against the development of this building for the farmers. According to them, it is because of the parking, because the people who come to the church park in that area, since they have worked with the church before, collaborating to build? He explained.

Jiménez said that in 2019, the priest of Half Moon Bay of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar church, José Corrales, agreed with the construction of the housing project, but at the last meeting he sent two people to show his position against the project.

Joaquín Jiménez considered that Newsom was not aware of the situation and that he probably does not know the process that is being carried out. ?He spoke ahead of time, he could have waited until after May 14 to come out with this comment. Now, it's less than a month since the first meeting, so why don't I wait? "That is an attack and now the fear is that it will create problems in the community," he said.

What would happen if this May 14 the Planning Commission decides, now, to oppose the project?

?First comes an appeal to us councilors. We are going to decide that as councilors, if we agree with the Half Moon Bay Operation Commission; If we agree and the project is not done, there may be a lawsuit at the State level that comes from the governor, but of course we will agree. Now we have to wait, the funds are not going to be lost, they are present; There has been a fear that if the decision is not made before July, millions of dollars that would be directed to that project will be lost, but it is all part of the process and we must know how to wait, it depends on what the Commission says? Jimenez commented. 

He also assured that he himself has not expressed his position on the project, because the process requires it. In fact, he said, if he had spoken out about it, he could be disqualified from continuing to participate if he filed an appeal.

 ?I am not allowed, and what can happen if I give my point of view, from my part in this development, they can ask me to be excluded, when in reality the vote is going to matter; Because if someone hears that Joaquín is in a certain position and someone knows it, on the very day of the meeting someone can ask Mayor Joaquín Jiménez to withdraw from the decision because he already made a comment, and I don't want that? Jiménez explained.

In addition to this 40-unit project, mentioned by the governor of California, in Half Moon Bay there is another housing project for agricultural workers promoted by Jiménez himself with the support of San Mateo County, after the shootings last year. 

This complex is located at 880 Stone Pine Street, which has a budget of 15 million to build 47 homes, which are estimated to be ready in early 2025.  

Peninsula 360 Press sought the position of the Catholic Church, requesting a comment from priest José Corrales of the Church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar; However, as of the publication of this note, he had not responded.


You may be interested in: Newsom urges Half Moon Bay to approve farmworker housing after mass shooting

Manuel Ortiz
Manuel Ortiz
He is a Mexican journalist and documentary photographer based in Redwood City. He is co-founder and director of Peninsula 360 Press. He has more than 20 years documenting international migration and social justice issues in various countries, including Mexico, the United States, Colombia, El Salvador, Bolivia, Brazil, Honduras, France, Japan, and Ukraine. He has a degree in Sociology and a master's degree in documentary film from UNAM.


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