OCEANSIDE — West Coast Tomato Growers is building dormitories to house seasonal farmworkers on-site at its packing facility in the city’s Guajome neighborhood near South Morro Hills.
The Planning Commission on May 8 approved the agricultural company’s request to build four buildings that will house 338-bed dormitories, kitchen, dining hall, laundry and office space at 5780 Mission Road.
West Coast Tomato Growers cultivates 580 acres of tomatoes and Brussels sprouts in Oceanside between March and November with the help of more than 300 seasonal employees from central Mexico.
The workers are in the United States under the H-2A visa program, which requires their employer to provide them with housing while working in the U.S.
The company was previously leasing a nearby site to house its seasonal workers. With that option no longer available, West Coast has planned to build its own facility.
“It seems like a much needed project if you’re operating a fairly sizable agricultural operations,” said Planning Commission Chair Tom Rosales. “Kudos to the applicant for recognizing need and stepping up to fund what looks like a really good project for the workers.”
The new dorms will be constructed on four acres next to the farm’s 25,000-square-foot packing facility. Two dorms will house the male farmworkers with up to 144 beds total, and a third building will house the female farmworkers with up to 50 beds.
Each dorm has eight rooms with eight to 10 bunkbeds and communal bathrooms.
The fourth building will contain the dining and kitchen areas, while the female dormitory will include the communal laundry area and janitorial storage space on the ground floor. Additionally, the company will build a soccer field and basketball court as part of the project for the farmworkers during their stay.
Additionally, the dorm project will include a biofiltration basin, overflow outfall and storm drain connection at the site’s northwest corner to treat runoff.
Due to the site’s proximity to the San Luis Rey River, the project will include a 100-foot buffer from the riparian forested areas near the river. The project will include extensive landscaping and 25 new canopy trees along its perimeter.
Commissioner Louise Balma, who lives in South Morro Hills, where her property overlooks the West Coast Tomato Growers’ fields, commended the agricultural company for bringing forward the project.
“I’m impressed with what you guys are doing and support you 1 million percent,” she said.
The Singh family owns West Coast Tomato Grower and has been farming in North County for over 60 years.