MORE

Hollywood Farmers Market: Film School "Stays" Objection to Permit

Hollywood Farmers Market: Film School "Stays" Objection to Permit
Felicia Friesema

Grassroots support and community ire have seemingly won out over land ownership and business development. Upon hearing that the Hollywood Farmers Market would be granted their much delayed street permit, the LA Film School (LAFS) issued a letter to Public Works Commissioner Andrea Alarcon stating that LAFS would "stay the school's protest of the permit," reserving the option to revoke that stay if a mutually agreeable option isn't found.

So if SEE-LA, the managing organization of the Hollywood Farmers Market, still says moving the market to a new footprint isn't on the table and the LA Film School still says it needs access to its buildings, seven days a week, and each are both pretty frozen in their positions, what's going to happen?

Yeah. High probability for some intense legal drama with the city caught right in the middle.

Hope for some kind of compromise is pretty slim. LAFS Vice President of Operations Jenna Langer said that they haven't had any contact with anyone at SEE-LA since the public meeting held at the Montalban Theatre back in May, where Langer went from observer to participant and became the focus for a lot of community ire. Regardless, Langer felt that meeting was fruitful and that things were moving in the right direction.

"We thought that was a good conversation and had identified some options," says Langer. "We had talked about what the film school could do to facilitate the move, including monetary compensation, and that was the last direct conversation we had."

Langer says that LAFS found out about SEE-LA's rejection of the alternative footprints from third parties, around the same time they found out that the city was intending to approve SEE-LA's permit as is.

Langer says that as long as a mutually agreeable long-term solution is possible, LAFS is willing to take on some short-term sacrifices. She points out that they've been willing to accept the continued permit extensions for the market so long as the conversation continued. That's still the case, she says, and is the motivation behind their letter to Alarcon.

That said, legal action could be possible if talks continue at an impasse. Langer insists that it's a last resort, and hopes that both sides are able to reach some form of agreement. Still, she says the priority is, and always has been, compromise, with no intention of shutting down the market.

"I don't think it's actually a different position from what we've felt all along," says Langer. "It's consistent with what we've been doing since last October when the discussion first started."

That said, the overall tone of the letter to Alarcon (yes, we have a copy) is one of resignation, colored with some very firm language about what this letter is not -- a complete reversal of the school's position. For now, LAFS intends to extend the conversation to surrounding businesses and residents.

"It would be difficult to find a resolution without engaging more stakeholders, specifically those that live in and run their businesses in the neighborhood," says Langer.

As unchanging as LAFS' position seems, it's only matched by SEE-LA's, and perhaps not without good reason. SEE-LA Chairman Michael Woo says that while he appreciates that the film school is willing to compromise, their past actions over the past eight months haven't gelled with what they've been saying.

"The Film School never produced convincing evidence that it needed garage access on Sunday mornings on a year-round basis," said Woo. "Furthermore, the Film School's access to the lower two levels of its parking structure (one of which charges a fee to be paid by Farmers Market customers on Sunday mornings) are not obstructed by the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday mornings. If the Film School really needed access to the parking spaces on the roof of the structure behind its Sunset/Ivar building, it could stop selling parking spaces on the ground level of the structure to Farmers Market customers."

The sticking point for SEE-LA has also been the seeming unwillingness of LAFS to seriously consider some structural redesigning that would connect the two top parking structures, which are currently separated by an narrow gap between the buildings, forcing access through the only other entrance available - on Ivar where the market is every Sunday. This step would solve that rooftop parking access issue and also give the school something it currently doesn't have - a direct connection between its two main buildings.

"The reason why SEE-LA suggested that the Film School consider connecting its two parking structures is that this might have solved the Film School's access to the roof of its parking structure behind the Sunset/Ivar building," said Woo. "The other Film School parking structure, behind its building at Sunset/Morningside Court, is accessible from Morningside Court, so if the two parking structures were bridged at the roof, that would solve the problem of roof access for the other structure. Unfortunately, the Film School ruled out that option at the outset of the discussions."

And perhaps the big question is why? That might have been answered by an astute community member in the audience at the public meeting in May, who questioned LAFS' plans around another property they own nearby, which also happens to be in the market's path. Move the market to another location and maybe kill two birds with one stone, rather than fight one battle, only to have to engage in another one a few years down the road. LAFS has stated publicly that they don't have any current plans for the other property, but if they are on a growth path like they say they are, then it would make sense for them to try and leverage all their resources. The school's future plans aren't set in stone, but if one was to go by the concept drawings presented to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce months back, it's pretty clear they're dreaming big. And apparently the market isn't part of it. More to come? Yeah. We can safely predict that.