The easy villain is Gov. George Deukmejian, who vetoed $500,000 to build 100 housing units for migrant farm workers here when the need is desperate and the bill was supported by San Diego legislators of his own party.
The lack of housing for migrants certainly is well documented. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of immigrants--many of them legal residents--live in inhumane conditions in hovels and holes in the ground in North County canyons. Even in a tight budget year, the expenditure should not have been turned down.
But Deukmejian is not alone among government officials who seem to be ignoring the problem. State officials say they have tried repeatedly to get local officials to apply for existing state funds but have encountered little interest. The county says it will be expensive to find land for the housing and that nearby residents will object.
One grower, Singh Farms, found the latter to be true when it proposed building dormitory-style housing for 352 workers in Oceanside. That was ironic, given that many North County residents were complaining about the problems of living alongside primitive migrant camps.
Singh succeeded in getting approval for the barracks, but much more housing is needed.
Assemblymen Robert Frazee (R-Carlsbad) made a good effort with his recent legislation, as have Assemblyman Bill Bradley (R-San Marcos) and Sen. William Craven (R-Oceanside). We encourage them to continue their efforts, and we urge Deukmejian to reconsider the severity of the problem.
But it is time for other local officials to pitch in--and make use of current programs while vigorously lobbying for better ones. Finding affordable land and calming community objections are hurdles that can be overcome with enlightened planning and a concerted effort.