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Farmers Markets

[Updated] The Fate of the Hollywood Farmers Market: The Battle for Ivar

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Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 7:35 AM
click to enlarge PHOTO: LESLEY BALLA
  • Photo: Lesley Balla

Update: On Monday, Hollywood Farmers' Market organizers met with city officials, reps from the L.A. Film School, and other community development groups to discuss the Sunday market's permitting issues. According to Pompea Smith, market manager and CEO of SEE-LA, there was pressure to reorganize the market right away, but she believes they have a four week stay and will operate as usual. Within that time, the market will to try and resolve the issue with the neighbors, but will also evaluate proposed solutions to reorganize should they have to displace the 40 to 50 farmers that set up along Ivar between Selma and Sunset.

According to a new city ordinance, in order for the market to renew its street closure permit, it needs support from 51% of the neighbors in the direct vicinity. For that block of Ivar, there are only four businesses that must weigh in, and two are holding out--the L.A. Film School and Jack-in-the-Box (the fast food restaurant's corporate office hasn't responded to SEE-LA yet). All others have signed off to support the weekly market.

Smith says that in addition to wanting access to one of its parking areas (one that isn't used much by the school on Sundays anyway), the school announced expansion plans, but hasn't been forthcoming with that information yet. "We've been here for almost 20 years, and now they say we have to move," she says. "If they really care about the community, we'd like them to communicate with the community and let us know what their expansion needs are so we can accommodate them."

City officials are staying pretty neutral in the matter but are trying to help facilitate a resolution. And there has been an outpouring of support from the public: More than 3,400 signatures were gathered last Sunday, and a Facebook page to Protect Hollywood Farmers Market now has more than 1,000 followers. In addition to signatures, Smith suggests contacting the mayor's office, and councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge's offices to voice all concerns and support.

"We're still working towards an amicable solution as soon as possible," Antoine Ibrahim, public relations specialist for the school, told us. You can follow updates on the website.

The original post, published December 6th:

The busiest table at the Hollywood Farmers Market yesterday wasn't one filled with Weiser Family Farm potatoes or Finley Farms greens, it was the one with the petition to save the Hollywood Farmers Market from closing.

According to SEE-LA, the nonprofit organization that operates the HFM, a portion of the market may shutter due to permitting issues and a squabble with the neighboring Los Angeles Film School.

The battle vortex is Ivar Avenue between Selma and Sunset, where the school is located. Because the market takes over the street for almost nine hours every Sunday, and has for years, the school can't get to one of its parking lots (it hast two). There is a lot of bureaucratic red tape making this a sticky situation, but basically to counteract their petition, the market has to get the approval from more than half of the business and property owners in the direct vicinity and file their own petition to counteract it.

The SEE-LA office has been hustling to get those approvals, and finding success, but time is running out.The market needed a temporary permit to open as usual this past weekend, and if the school gets its way, the market will need to reconfigure its approximately 150 vendors for this coming Sunday.

No matter how you look at it, it means a smaller market. The certified farmers and vendors who bring their locally grown produce, Santa Barbara crabs, grass-fed meats, cheeses, flowers and plants need to be grouped together, so if they have to be moved, others, like the food and craft vendors, may be completely displaced. Market manager Pompea Smith told KTLA that the loss of income will effect the vendors themselves, but also the seven other small markets and community outreach programs (like the Farmer's Kitchen) that SEE-LA supports.

There's a meeting between market reps and the mayor's office scheduled for later today. Yesterday councilman Eric Garcetti, whose district this is, said via Twitter: "We are working hard to support our beloved market, help them work out a solution with their neighbors."

Let's hope. The market is one of the largest in L.A. and an integral part of the Hollywood community. For almost 20 years it's been a weekly ritual for local, tourists, chefs, families. There's only one place to get your watermelon radishes, Cafecito Organico cold-brewed iced coffee, papusas, Valerie Confection's sweet and savory pastries, whole roast chickens, bags of citrus, every herb imaginable--and slurp down a few Carlsbad oysters while you're at it.

SEE-LA gathered thousands of signatures yesterday, which will show the city just how beloved the market really is. If you didn't get to sign, you can email info@farmernet.com to show your support, and "like" the Protect the Hollywood Farmers Market Facebook page. Don't forget to check back here for updates.

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