EDITOR’S NOTE: The 19-year-old Hollywood Farmers’ Market will go on as usual Sunday morning though its future is in serious jeopardy because of City Hall’s policies that prompted officials to deny it a permit to operate any longer. Community protests won it a month’s reprieve A Save the Hollywood Farmers’ Market Coalition has formed and will stage a rally at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the City Hall Lawn and then express the concerns of citizens from across LA to the City Council at 9 a.m. Save Farmers Market.pdf South Central Farmers.doc Action Alert and Sample Protest Letter.
This is story about a controversy that contains many of the elements of what’s wrong in Los Angeles, a story of a dirty deal to benefit a sleazy developer and not the public, a story of two valuable institutions on a collision course, a story about the indifference and ineffectiveness of public officials.
It is a story that epitomizes both the corruption and the failure of City Hall.
It is the story in a single particular — one that is occurring all over the city — because of policies of the mayor and City Council and their gross financial mismanagement that has prompted them to close parks and libraries and slash other basic services while raising rates, fees and fines sharply.
One of their policies — the one that threatens community events everywhere — is the new law that makes farmers’ markets that
block off city streets pay all city costs for street services, cops and everything else and to obtain permission from nearby residents and businesses to even get a permit.
This is part of the mayor’s “full cost recovery” policy that is making taxpayers pay twice if they get city services and even charges city departments like parks and libraries for everything they get from water and power to office and personnel costs.
Exemptions are made, of course, whenever and wherever our elected officials decide to put the public’s money.
One such case, the El Sereno Farmers’ Market, is set on Tuesday to get such an exemption when the Council approves providing $15,000 in public money to keep it going.
The Hollywood Farmers’ Market is not so lucky. The future of many other similar markets and community events of all sorts are also in doubt.
One of the oldest, largest and best farmers’ markets in LA, the one at Selma and Ivar in Hollywood has been operating every Sunday morning for 19 years with 150 farmers, artisans, cooks and bakers..
It is a major community event, drawing crowds of 10,000 people most Sundays.
From the recent massive increase imposed on the thousands of people who grow food in the city’s nine community farms, you might think City Hall is at war against fresh and wholesome food.
But last week, the Council made it the official policy of the city that “food deserts” like the one in parts of South LA, will not be tolerated. New fast food restaurantswill not be allowed any longer in South LA within half a mile of each other and Fresh & Easy won approval to open a new market despite vocal community opposition to granting a series of variances from zoning laws.
You might think the same healthy choice sensibility shown by Jan Perry and Bernard Parks in getting those ordinance passed would be shown by Council President Eric Garcetti, whose political correctness could never be questioned.
But Garcetti isn’t into good food and community vitality as much as providing tax breaks to Hollywood enterprises, subsidies to Hollywood developers and pleasing his patrons among the union leaders and big shots who he hopes will generously fund his campaign for mayor in two years. .
He has has three years to find a solution to the dilemma of the Hollywood Farmers Market but last month it was denied a city permit to operate any longer.
Community protests won it a reprieve through the holidays but it’s run at Selma and Ivar is over come Jan.1, 2011 unless a solution is found and City Hall backs down. At best, it will be moved and reduced in size by half. At worst, it will be gone entirely.
The obstacle facing the Hollywood Farmers’ Market isn’t the requirement of double taxation imposed on it for the cost of what should be basic community services but the necessity to get of its neighboring residents and business — one business in particular.
In closing off part of Selma and Ivar, the Farmers’ Market limits access to the LA Film School’s parking.
The school says it is flourishing and is now operating seven days a week so it needs full access to all its parking, which means Ivar can no longer be closed off for the market. LAFILMSCHOOL.doc
The result is city officials refused to grant a street closure permit for this Sunday’s market, relenting only when the protests grew loud enough to force them to grant a reprieve for the holiday season.
The city has offered alternatives near and far but none provide the space or amenities that have from nearly two decades at Selma and Ivar. Nor is sharply reducing the market’s size at its current location acceptable to the non-profit Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles which operates the Hollywood and several other farmers’ markets whose future could be in doubt because of the loss of revenue…
this portion of Ivar could result in a loss of fifty-percent
of the certified farmers and a reduction of approximately
one third of the total vendors. It cannot be reconfigured
within the existing neighborhood without multiple ramifications
- including the possibility of losing the Farmers’
Market in its entirety,” the group says at its website..
up a farmers’ market is not simply an issue of moving
a few tents and tables, but is logistically complex,
with many public safety issues involved. Current proposals
for shifting the market provide inadequate space for
the displaced farmers and vendors, raise issues of public
safety or both.”
What elevates this beyond just another of a thousand examples of the city’s inability or unwillingness to intervene in conflicts and provide solutions that satisfy competing needs and values is what is going on just a short block from the Farmer’s Market.
At 1601 N. Vine, at the corner of Selma, is the property that Councilman Eric Garcetti is desperately trying to give away developer Hal Katersky and his Pacifica Ventures, a company that specializes in profiteering on runaway film and TV production.
Give away is an understatement. Garcetti, a man who would be mayor, wants to give Katersky and his partner a $4.6 million gift of public money from the Community Redevelopment Agency to put up a $57 million building that nobody wants or needs.
Twelve times in six months, Garcetti has tried to push the deal through the Council and 12 times he has had to pull it, admitting recently that the serious questions raised by the community must be answered before it will be approved.
Despite bankruptcies and lawsuits, Katersky’s firm has profited from setting up film production studios from Alquerque to Prague where governments are more than happy to steal Hollywood jobs.
If the Council President had put as much effort into solving the market’s problem and cared as much about healthy food and a community activity enjoyed by 10,000 people a week as he does about serving corporate interests, this controversy would have been averted and the problem solved long ago and people would not be coming down to City Hall on Tuesday to protest.