Half Moon Bay coping with drought restrictions


The businesses that board horses were hit hard by the great recession and now the drought is threatening to do more damage as hay becomes an expensive commodity.

"We tried to freeze our prices a couple of years ago and just take it in the chops, when the economy was so poor. We're not going to be able to take [the drought] in the chops entirely," said Willa Chapman of Sea Horse Ranch.

There are several dozen places in Half Moon Bay that also offer horse rides to the public. Still, the current situation is pushing many businesses that rely on hay to their financial limits.

"Alfalfa, a decade, 15 years ago was $8 to $10 dollars a bale. It's now $20 dollars a bale. It's going to be even higher, assuming we can find it," said Chapman.

Azevedo is the main hay supplier in Half Moon Bay. Finding hay to meet the local demand is becoming a challenge. They sell to retailers like Half Moon Bay Feed and Fuel Co. on Main Street. They say people have no other choice but to pay the higher prices if they want their animals to survive.

Seventy-two percent of the water used in Half Moon Bay comes from Hetch Hetchy, San Francisco's water source. Like other cities, Half Moon Bay is facing a water crisis and residents are trying to respond at home and at work.

"At home, taking shorter showers and not watering my grass," said Joy Moore of Harmonies Salon.

Employees of It's Italia restaurant serve water only if customers ask first.

"We fill the jug, not full, but half way in hopes that that will be enough. We're just trying to cut back," said It's Italia owner Betsy Del Fierro.

The restaurant is already making a list of changes it will need to make in case the water shortage gets worse.

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