Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Half Moon Bay City Council passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2021. That was set to outpace state legislation by a few years.

While advocates for the low-income workers pushed for an increase, some business owners stated the higher wages would be challenging because they were already operating on thin margins. Now many owners of businesses that may be shuttered entirely are facing the prospect of reopening with a higher pay scale.

So far, there has not been an extensive discussion among city officials about whether to delay the increase in minimum wage past Jan. 1.

“We know it’s something businesses are wondering about and can be part of the recovery discussions in the future,” Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester said in an email.

Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce CEO Krystlyn Giedt said she’s heard the concern.

“After the shelter-in-place lifts we will begin to get a real feel on the impact this has on businesses,” she said. “If businesses had to layoff or furlough employees they might now have to bring them back at a lower rate.”

Giedt said she’s aware the council would be choosing whom to help: the low-wage workers or struggling business owners.

“What segment of the community are they going to support? For some businesses, this is going to had add insult to injury,” she said.

Meanwhile, other cities such as San Carlos, which was scheduled to raise its minimum wage to $15 starting July 1, 2020, is considering delaying it until Jan. 1.

— Libby Leyden

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