Nipomo neighbors in uproar over migrant housing

April 1, 2016

Halsel home


A large strawberry grower in South County is seeking to move 112 or more foreign nationals into seven homes on Mad Place in Nipomo. A plan some neighbors are rallying against.

Under the federal H-2A program, employers file petitions for foreign nationals to temporarily enter the United State to perform work that citizens will not perform. The employer is then required to provide housing and transportation for the workers.

In this case, the workers for Mar Vista Berry will predominantly be men from Mexico and Central America. The current plan is to place 16 men in each home for approximately nine months out of the year.

Strawberry farmAfter learning of the grower’s plan to house farm workers in this residential neighborhood off of Tefft Avenue, near Highway 101 and the Dana Adobe, Supervisor Lynn Compton met with County Counsel Rita Neal to determine if this was permissible under current regulations, or if the county could enact an ordinance to limit the number of people living in a home, Compton said.

However, after researching the issue, Neal said that several court cases, including the City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson, have determined that those types of restrictions are unconstitutional, discriminatory and unlikely to withstand legal challenges, Compton said.

“When you live in a residential subdivision, your expectations are that there will be other families living there,” Compton said. “And not that you will be living next to a dorm, even if it is legal.”

In January, after meeting with county counsel, Compton and Jim Bergman, the director of building and planning, requested a meeting with representatives of Mar Vista Berry and Halsell Builders to voice their concerns about the proposal.

More than a year ago, Halsell Builders constructed three of the homes, but was unable to sell them.

Mad farms 2

“A happy, little cul-de-sac of six semi-custom and one custom home on an acre,” the builder’s website says.

“This is a neighborhood based on childhood memories, cutoff shorts and the ice cream truck” Halsell Builders’ Mad Farm’s website says. “Homes that reflect the spirit of family.”

Halsell currently has three homes built, three under construction and plans to build one more to finish out the subdivision.

On Feb. 10, Bergman informed the grower that his original plan to place 26 men in each home violated the California Building Code requirement of no more than 16 persons in a single-family residence. Bergman also noted his and Compton’s concerns about the impact a cluster of migrant housing units would have on the community.

“At the meeting, Supervisor Compton and I expressed to you that although your proposed course of action may be lawful (assuming no more than 16 residents per home), it most likely will become publicly controversial,” Bergman said in his letter. “In my career, I have witnessed four similar situations and all resulted in the community placing substantial pressure on the property owners which caused each to reconsider their actions.”

On Monday, at a South County Advisory Council meeting, a group of about 45 Nipomo residents voiced their concerns about crime, noise levels and their property values if seven neighborhood homes are used for migrant housing.

Last week, the grower moved bunk beds into three of the homes with plans to move the farm workers in on May 1.

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BOYCOTT these berries —- Mar Vista Berry

Go ahead, if the price drops I’ll just buy even more.

Thank you, Lynn Compton, for addressing your concerns in this matter. And thank you, Karen Velie, for writing this article.

‘Mej’ is right; who’s in charge of accounting for their disappearance? This is a pure way for illegals to gain residence and establish anchor babies. It’s so absurd. I’m bringing this to the attention of Donald Trump..

I wonder if they do a criminal background check on these guys?? They could end up harboring wanted criminals!

Patently Absurd !


*(just not near us.)

Its not really about affordable housing… its about 26 men in a home and in a neighborhood meant for families…can you imagine the problems that will occur?

Noise, trash, loitering..just to start.. Have you ever seen what goes on in santa maria??

Come on we can be sure all these men passed the governments strict vetting process, just like San Bernadino and certainly there would not be anyone in the group with any kind of criminal background and that would want to do us or a child harm, our government guarantees us.

Sure, just like San Bernardino, LOL!

What kind of vetting process did you go through, kayaknut?

Don’t you realize that San Bernardino mastermind Syed Rizwan Farook was a native-born American just like I assume you are.

What could go wrong?

The street name is fitting!

Just saw the street name…oh my!

112 people in 7 homes?? Are you effin kidding me!!

Why not provide temporary housing (modular, trailer type) for the workers? This is a common practice throughout North America particularly in out line, remote areas. It’s cost effective, efficient, and practical. It could even be part of the subsidy (in lieu of) provided to the grower.

People would object just as loudly about that.

Well, as long as Americans are unwilling to perform the back breaking work, but are willing to consume the crops, my suggestion is the most practical. If necessary, put the trailers on the farmers property…they are getting lots of farm subsidy from the government.

I agree with you totally.

It’s just that most people just want farm laborers to teleport in to do their jobs and then teleport back when they’re through. They don’t want them to spoil our beautiful community by living here.

They also don’t want our bucolic farmland to be blighted by the having trailers or tents to house the farm workers.

from their website: “Since we opened our doors in 2002, Halsell Builders has been committed to giving back to the community which has given us so much.”


and they have a facebook site

I left them a message on their FB page!!

I just tried to check out their Facebook page and the content isn’t available, lol.

Giving back what? An instant slum?

The federal H-2A program needs to have provisions for what happens when the workers don’t return. Like the employer has to pay a 500,000 penalty for any that go missing.

A few things about migrant housing.

First, migrant housing should obviously be set up so it does not impact the neighborhood. 30 men living in three houses is ridiculous. The farm owner should spread his migrant workers across a community.

Second, migrant labor from Latin America under programs like H-2A has to stop. Latin American immigrants from countries like Mexico and Guatemala often just stay in the USA after their work contract is up. It is too easy for Latin American guest workers to blend in with the large Hispanic community, have anchor babies, and stay permanently.

A better solution would be importing workers who would not easily overstay their visa and could be flown back to their home countries. Farmers in the South have actually used Afrikaners from South Africa because even illegal Hispanic labor was unavailable. Donald Trump used Romanian H-2B visa workers at his resorts. Workers from such countries are easier to track and can be flown home when their work contract has ended.

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