While the state is setting a $1 increase in minimum wage in January, the city of Half Moon Bay is looking to expedite the process by raising it to $15 an hour as soon as next summer. Even with the latest increase, the statewide minimum wage wouldn’t reach the city’s proposed rate for all employers until 2023.

If it passes, the Half Moon Bay City Council will join those from other cities in San Mateo County in addressing one aspect of affordability. The city’s ordinance would take effect on July 1, 2020. The council will consider it during a meeting on Jan. 21, 2020.

“The statistics bear out the truth: If you increase someone’s wage it increases the quality of life for everyone,” Councilwoman Deborah Penrose said.

City staff reportedly reviewed multiple studies tracking the impacts of minimum wage increases throughout the country. Additionally, local business owners were contacted to share their thoughts and concerns on the issue.

Senate Bill 3, passed into law in 2016, established an incremental schedule to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022 for employers with 25 employees or more and by 2023 for employers with 25 employees or less. Following 2023, future wage increases will be based on changes in the Consumer Price Index, up to 3.5 percent per year. Since the state’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour, it prevails in California.

Cities throughout the country will raise the minimum wage higher than the federally set floor, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Half Moon Bay Management Analyst Victor Gaitan said certain local

business owners were concerned about having a significant increase (in this case $2 to $3 more per hour) in wages in the middle of a calendar year.

“The main concerns were businesses would have to reduce employee hours, face staffing cuts and even close the business,” he said.

Restaurateurs, who often have both tipped and non-tipped employees, asked about the possibility of excluding tipped workers from any local minimum wage requirement. However, due to state law, the city cannot allow a different wage for those classes of employees. That may mean restaurants raise prices to compensate for higher wages.

But, as some worry about managing the costs of paying employees more, others are relying on an increase in wages to pay for rent, food and other costs of living.

“It’s been shocking working with families (who’ve been laid off by Bay City Flower Co.). I am hearing stories of people making $12 an hour. They can’t make it,” Belinda Arriaga said. She is founder and director of

Ayudando Latinos A Soñar and is an advocate for the Latino community in Half Moon Bay. “It’s more of an urgency. It’s not even a choice.

People are being deported from our community because they can’t afford it.”

Several council members noted a minimum wage of $15 is not nearly enough to pay for living in Half Moon Bay. The California Housing Partnership Corporation, a nonprofit organization, estimates renters in the county need to earn about $65 per hour to afford the median asking rent of $3,512.

Half Moon Bay resident Margarita Vasquez said she remembers her father working two jobs to be able to provide for her family. Now, as a student in college, she said she still hears about multiple families living in one house and people working several jobs.

All five council members expressed support for the new minimum wage.

“It may be tough right away… but I also think having all our businesses pay $15 is a good mission statement. A branding thing, like we look out for our employees in Half Moon Bay,” Councilwoman Debbie Ruddock said.

If the city decides to approve a minimum wage ordinance it will join many other jurisdictions in the county that already have similar laws going into effect next month, including San Mateo, Redwood City and South San Francisco.

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