How fast 90 days flies by. SEE-LA, the organization that runs the Hollywood Farmers Market (among others), is set to lose its permit to operate on Ivar between Selma and Sunset unless they are, once again, granted an extension by the city. Originally it was thought that 90 days would be ample time to iron out the conflicts between the Los Angeles Film School, whose disapproval of the permit could effectively cut the market in half at Selma, and SEE-LA, who would lose a giant chunk of their revenue for the other LA projects they run if the Hollywood market gets truncated.
A press release sent out on Friday from the community group Neighbors for Change announced that they'd be tabling at the market this Sunday collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered on Monday to Councilmember Eric Garcetti. Considering that Garcetti's office is holding a closed door meeting today with the permitting primaries to see what can be done, it seems a bit like a procrastinator's push. But for fans of what has become one of Los Angeles' market institutions, it's probably a case of better late than never.
Lyn Goldfarb, spokesperson for Neighbors for Change, said it's not really about the film school or the Hollywood Farmers Market at all, but about the convoluted and contradicting ordinances that govern the permitting process that got the market into this mess.
"The ordinance is confusing and extremely unclear," said Goldfarb. "We believe that the city council needs to clarify the language. There are conflicting regulations between three different agencies whose regulations impact this and they are somewhat contradictory. Markets should not be subject to these regulations. They are long term community events."
She also added that the interpretations of those ordinances vary widely depending on your point of view. In this case, she said, they are opting for a very narrow interpretation of the regulation that lumps the market in with one-time street events that don't require longevity to be successful.
The LA Film School's stance is essentially unchanged. They want access to their parking lot entrance at the corner of Ivar and Selma so that they can continue to serve the growing needs of their future students.
According to Albert Villalta, the LA Film School's Vice President of Marketing, a new statement is expected to be distributed on Tuesday, after the permitting meeting is concluded.
Pompea Smith, SEE-LA's executive director, was not immediately available for comment.
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Neighbors for Change collected about 1200 signatures at last week's market and expected to double that this week. The buzz at the market however, was decidedly low-key compared to previous attempts to gather community support. Vendors had been apprised of the issues three weeks prior during a meeting. But between then and now, the only information they received from SEE-LA about the market's permit status was in a short flyer distributed to the vendors on Sunday morning. That flyer stated that the permit would probably be extended for an additional week.
Communication issues aside, Neighbors for Change was out gathering signatures in hopes of sending a message to the powers that be.
"We feel it's really important for Eric Garcetti to understand that there is community pressure for them to act," said Goldfarb. "The city council can clarify the language and protect the farmers market. We want them to know how much community support there is and we want them to know that the community can be easily mobilized."
Indeed one of the reasons the community can be mobilized again is because of the strong connection so many people feel with the market. Whether that's enough to keep it open remains to be seen.