City manager enters Farmers Market negotiations
CHICO, Calif. - At the request of Chico's city council, Interim City Manager Mark Orme offered four proposals to solve the dispute between the city and the Saturday Farmers market.
One of them would require the Farmers Market to pay $5,000 annually into a parking fund. A second proposal would move the market from Saturday to Sunday. Two others would move its entire operation from Flume and Wall Streets to the parking lot at City Hall.
"We want them to stay vital and stay successful," said Orme. "And by keeping them in Downtown and giving them options to look at is great." The Farmers Market garnered more than 9,000 valid signatures for its November initiative that would expand its space from two to four columns of parking at the existing location and extend its lease from year-to-year to six years.
A proponent of the initiative is former Chico mayor Karl Ory, who is more interested in the initiative and not proposals. "The election code says that the initiative goes on the November ballot," said Ory. "So why are we doing anything else other than debating the initiative that's going to be on the ballot in November?" Nearby businesses say that the Farmers Market takes away valuable parking spots and in some cases is a direct competitor.
"We've never had a problem with them being there; it's just their expansion," said Val Montague, a nearby businessman. "By losing 80 parking spaces, if a car moves once an hour, that's a total of 400 parking spaces that we're going to lose. And that's going to affect us greatly as merchants."
On June 17, the city council will decide whether to adopt the initiative or allow it to be put on the November ballot for a vote of he people. But even if it's passed, some legal opinions say the initiative is against the state constitution.