Half Moon Bay farm to build new housing for employees

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The farm where the Half Moon Bay shooter lived and worked has announced its plan to build new housing structures for its employees. 

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe confirmed on Friday that the mass shooting resulted from a $100 equipment bill that the suspected shooter was facing. 

Chunli Zhao, 66, was allegedly angered by the bill because he claimed that a coworker had caused the equipment damage. After confronting his supervisor and coworker, he shot them both to death. 

The shooting killed seven people and injured an eighth. 

The incident shed light on past violence and living conditions at the California Terra Garden (formerly known as Mountain Mushroom Farm). 

Local and state officials toured the facilities days after the shooting and found living conditions “deplorable.” According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, farmworkers were living in shipping containers and getting paid $9 an hour. 

Cooking area at farm in Half Moon Bay (Photo courtesy of Ray Mueller)

San Mateo District 3 Supervisor Ray Mueller posted photos of the facilities after his tour. The photos showed floors covered in thick layers of mud from recent flooding. He saw buildings with no insulation and no running water.

Developments could take a year to finish due to permitting requirements. However, the California Terra Garden plans to work with local officials to find affordable housing for their employees for the 12 months. 

Last week, the farm disputed the claims of low wages and substandard living conditions.

We have 8 families that reside on the property in County-inspected mobile homes and large recreational vehicles. They are all equipped with kitchens, bathrooms and shower facilities in addition to standard living amenities. Additional outside toilet and kitchen facilities exist to allow the families to host gatherings as most families like to do. No one lives in anything like shipping containers or tents as was erroneously reported. The families pay approximately $300 a month to rent these living spaces, well below market rate.

Secondly, the salary of all employees range from $16.50 to $24. They also receive paid vacation days, company-sponsored health insurance, life/disability insurance, workman’s compensation insurance, and access to a 401(k) plan.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.