Representatives with the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association (PCFMA) presented the idea during Thursday’s Central Core Restoration Corporation (CCRC) Board of Directors meeting.
Shawn Lipetzky, regional manager with the market association, cited safety concerns as the primary reason to move the market from the 300 and 400 blocks of Georgia Street.
“We believe we don’t have the resources to keep the market safe,” he said.
Both Lipetzky and PCFMA Director of Direct Marketing Ben Palazzolo said people are moving barricades and driving through the market to park.
With only three staff members on duty, there is a concern they won’t be able to keep cars out of the market, they said.
Both men also said the proposed move comes after several downtown merchants have requested that vendor booths be placed at a certain distance from each other to allow shoppers in the street to see the store fronts.
Lipetzky said these requests have altered the market layout and it isn’t working.
The 200 block of Georgia can be blocked off better and there aren’t any storefronts, allowing for a better layout, he said.
CCRC Director Ken Ingersoll defended the proposal, stating the mentioned issues have been building up.
“They are not willing to take on this level of liability anymore,” he said about the PCFMA.
Ingersoll expressed that he has witnessed cars enter and leave the market.
“They’re not traffic enforcement, they’re not parking enforcement, they’re just operators,” he added. “They just want to operate their market.”
Fellow CCRC Director David Fischer called the proposed move “overkill.” He said before moving the market, there should be an evaluation of what barricades to use and better outreach by the association.
Mark Reed, also a CCRC director, agreed, further stating he continually witnesses animals in the market, people not in the free speech zone and market officials “afraid” to approach people and inform them of the rules. Reed said those issues should be addressed first before discussing any plans on moving the market.
Downtown merchants packed the small conference room on the second floor of 301 Georigia St. Many stood outside the room listening to the discussion.
About 20 merchants spoke, requesting the market stay in its current location.
Michael Todd of Psychic Reality said the market accounts for 45 percent of the dollar volume his business receives on Saturdays. He noted a healing booth outside the store front during the market also leads to people signing up for the business’ meditation classes.
Todd said that market visitors and people who watch parades downtown, usually flow in one direction.
“Once people get past Sacramento Street, they aren’t coming back up (Georgia Street),” he said, as many of the merchants in the room began to murmur in agreement. Tracy Henderson of Ladells Shoes asked the association and CCRC to “look at other solutions.”
“A large part of my income comes from Saturday,” she added.
Henderson said the downtown businesses and farmer’s market need each other to be successful.
After the last merchant addressed the board, Palazzolo agreed that there could be better communication between the association and downtown businesses. He requested the proposed move be postponed for the time until the issues could be investigated.
The directors did vote to have the security they contract with cover the market.