Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 8:36 am | Fair 49º


Local News

Nipomo Farmworker Housing Project Canceled After Suspicious Fire

The owners of the Nipomo farmworker housing that was damaged by a suspicious fire last week are pulling their plans for the development.

Greg and Donna France of Mar Vista Berry were in the process of building seven homes in the Mads Place cul-de-sac, near the 100 block of South Oakglen Avenue.

The homes would’ve had the capacity to house about 112 farmworkers, whom the Frances planned to hire through the federal H-2A guest agriculture worker program.

Growers are required to provide housing for workers participating in the program, which can only be used in areas where there’s a shortage of local workers.

Cal Fire is still investigating the blaze, which on April 6 destroyed a home that was under construction and damaged another.

The incident hasn’t been ruled an arson, although Cal Fire officials called it suspicious and said they’re working with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the fire.

The Frances in a Wednesday statement called the fire an arson and said “continued threats against the property, our prospective workers and ourselves has raised our concerns about the ability to ensure the safety of the workers and to maintain a safe environment for the neighbors.”

The couple said they’re working with officials to offer a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide information about the alleged culprit behind the fire.

“It will be important for the agricultural community and the community at large to work together to find solutions that will provide quality housing for these hard-working individuals who legally and temporarily come to this country to improve their own lives and the lives of their families in Mexico,” the Frances said.

“These workers are also responsible for harvesting the crops that reach our own tables.”

[Click here to read more stories from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.]

— Lindsey Holden is a staff writer for the San Luis Obispo Tribune and can be contacted at [email protected]

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