Yakima City Council to decide fate of farm workers' living conditions

Yakima City Council to decide fate of farm workers' living conditions

YAKIMA, Wash.- The option to add more seasonal farm workers to the city has been put on pause since the summer after council realized they didn't have a code to go off of when determining what companies can house seasonal farm workers.

The six month moratorium started after a Yakima business owner asked to have their property be intended for extended stay guests.

"The owners of the property put in an application and the city went 'well wait, we don't really have a definition for extended stay," said Yakima City Public Information Officer Randy Beehler.

Beehler said they need this in writing to prevent lots of hotels from changing quickly and leaving no room for guests who aren't farm workers, or driving out locals who live in the area and replacing them with foreign workers.

Leaders over at Washington Growers league say if the moratorium is longer than planned, it could make it more difficult for growers to find housing for their farm workers during the season.

Owner of McIlrath Family Farms Scott McIlrath says we are already seeing a huge shortage of farmers in our state, and making it difficult to house farmers will add to the shortage.

"It's going to be more difficult to bring these people up underneath the program if you don't have a place to put them," McIlrath.

The Yakima planning commission finished putting together a definition Wednesday, and now it's up to city council to decide next Tuesday how they should move forward with that code.

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