In Monterey California, It's Slow-Growth Advocates Versus Developers and Immigrants

What to do with an area that produces some 80 percent of the nation's lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach that lacks in housing for migrant workers? Why build more housing of course. Not so fast say "slow-growth" advocates.
August 31, 2006, 10am PDT | Matt Baumann
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Monterey County has some of the most dramatic views in the world and is home to wealthy landowners who live near the Pacific Ocean. Yet, travel inland a few miles near Salinas and one will find that 39 percent of homes have more than 1.5 people per room, as compared with 0.5 percent of all U.S. homes. According to this article, overcrowded conditions are a direct result from housing prices in Salinas that make it the least-affordable place in the country to live. The median resale price of a single-family home in Salinas was $620,000 in June 2006.

The area around Salinas produces around $3.5 billion of crops yearly. The agricultural workers in the area, most who make slightly above minimum wage, can nowhere near afford the type of house that is required to escape the overcrowded living conditions many are faced with.

One solution, says developers, farmers, and immigration advocates, is to build affordable housing for these workers. However, "slow-growth" advocates have mostly blocked this type of housing through the courts by forming LandWatch Monterey County. Critics of LandWatch contend that these people "found Utopia and don't want anything to change."

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Published on Monday, August 28, 2006 in Wall Street Journal via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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