Neighbors Say Proposed Farmworker Housing will Cause 30 Percent Drop in Nearby Property Values

ACAMPO -- A group of families in Acampo are putting up a fight against a farmworker housing proposal. They say the complex, which would be built near Jahant and Bryant roads, will create a firestorm of problems for families living nearby.

Beyond a chain-link fence on Brittany Lane in Acampo sits a piece of vacant land and the plans for its future are now the source of a big controversy. From signatures to letters to emails, Donna Sommerfeld and her neighbors are trying to get the attention of San Joaquin County leaders,

"Hundreds and hundreds of emails and letters have gone into the county protesting this,” Sommerfeld said.

They want to stop the proposed project to build a farmworker housing complex on the property.

They got word of the plan in August.

"The way it looks, the way the property sits, it’s going to be like a concentration camp,” she said.

Sommerfeld is concerned that the project, if approved, will create more traffic, crime and increase home insurance prices. But the biggest concern is property value.

"Number one, our property value will drop more than 30 percent," she said.

The county’s Community Development Department explained that the plan’s applicant, John Droge, has expressed interest in building a 12 unit building for farm workers, which the county considers "small" compared to other projects in California.

Under state law — small farmworker housing is exempt from local land use, which means county officials do not have the authority to review, but they do oversee building permits.

Sommerfeld wants the county to deny those permits and bring the project to a halt. She’s planning a protest at the county’s next planning commission hearing.

“We are hoping to have hundreds of people there,” she said.

The meeting is set for Oct. 20.

We reached out to the project’s applicant, John Droge. We did not get a response.