SALINAS, Calif. – Temporary workers let into the United States for farm work under the H-2A program now get a chance to stay in hotels and motels in Salinas longer than before. 

Right now, as many as 15 farm workers could be living in a single home in neighborhoods across Salinas. Hotels and motels are also seeing way too many workers overstaying their 28-day limit. 

The Salinas City Council is now letting labor contractors rent motel and hotel rooms for up to six months, after which they can renew a rental permit for an additional six months. 

“The ordinance deals with guest workers, folks that are here temporarily during the farming season for more than 120 or even up to six months,” said Steve McShane, a Salinas city councilmember. 

Previously, labor contractors were only allowed to rent rooms for 28 days. But the city council says these contractors used different names and reservations to get around that limit, which packed hotels and motels. 

But McShane hopes this new law will alleviate overcrowded homes. 

“All hotels and motels within the city limits will apply to this ordinance,” he said. 

That could mean less crowded neighborhoods if farm workers decide to live in hotels instead of overcrowded homes. 

While McShane admits this is a temporary fix and understands that it could take away from tourism lodging, he says the benefits are needed. 

“At the end of the day, housing is one of the most critical issues in Salinas and temporary guest worker housing is right in in all of that,” said McShane. “This ordinance goes to length at getting folks out of residential homes and into organized housing.” 

The ordinance also allows for city inspections of the motels and hotels, parking for the agriculture companies and a management plan.