A proposal by Chico Mayor Mary Goloff to end the franchise agreement with the Saturday farmers market could force it to move from the spot it’s occupied on 2nd and Wall streets for the past 20 years.
The move has people with the group that runs the weekly local outdoor shopping event—the Chico Certified Farmers Market—up in arms.
“The farmers market is surprised and disappointed by Mayor Goloff's most recent actions,” said Natalie Carter, Office Manager with CCFM. “We were looking for more time to come to a consensus for what would best serve our community.”
The item is set to be on the agenda for next week's city council meeting.
What it boils down to is a longtime battle over parking,
Nancy Lindahl, a downtown business owner, says area retailers are not really benefiting from market-goers.
“When they're buying produce and vegetable and perishable things they may go into town for lunch quickly or for a coffee,” she says, “but they don't really shop. I mean, they're on a mission.”
The general consensus amongst downtown business owners isn't that they want to see an end to the market.
In fact, many admit to being frequent market shoppers.
Instead, they say they simply want to free up parking spots they see as vital to their businesses.
As an alternative, they're proposing a move one block away—to the parking lot of the Chico Municipal Building on 4th and Wall Streets.
Bud Schwab, president of the Downtown Chico Business Association, says the location offers an even better environment.
“The advantages—from the availability of bathrooms, to electricity, to general movement through (the proposed location)—seems like it has all the right ingredients,” Schwab says.
The Saturday farmers market has rights to its current location until the end of the year, which would give them about 6 months to come up with an alternative solution, should the council decide to act.
But Natalie Carter with CCFM says her group is just not ready to go there.
“As far as we had gotten, there wasn't a location that had been suggested that really met the needs of all of our farmers,” she says. “We were hoping to work with the city and the community to find a spot, if in fact there is another spot.”
Whether the proposal to end the leasing agreement actually goes anywhere with the city council is up in the air.
The council deadlocked on a decision to extend the leasing agreement by 2 years in recent months.
But the action has at least re-started the longtime conversation about what should be done—if anything—with the Saturday farmers market.