Poor Living Conditions for Vineyard Workers

A letter to the Editor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat calls out the substandard housing for vineyard workers in Sonoma county’s fabled wine industry.

EDITOR: Seeing the horrible housing conditions lower income people face in Sonoma County was an eye-opener (“Stuck in slumlike housing,” Nov. 21). It took me back 79 years to the forced relocation of Japanese American families to the Tanforan Racetrack, where we were housed in horse stalls. I remember everyone cleaning endlessly to clear the straw and manure from our living area. The bathrooms were central latrines. That was temporary, while the substandard housing for groups like farmworkers is permanent unless we take action.

Supervisor James Gore was right when he described the barriers to building affordable housing, but we must use the infrastructure funds to kickstart the process and work hard as a community to defeat the NIMBY response to housing proposals.

Since many of the workers are vineyard workers, can’t the wine industry lead the fight for better living conditions? They should be part of Staff Writer Kathleen Coates and Staff Photographer Christopher Chung’s follow-up stories on how to deal with the problem. We can’t let down these 10,000 agricultural workers essential to Sonoma County’s economy.


Bodega Bay