The review is required as under California Environmental Quality Act for potential construction of police station
The Cota Commuter Lot at the corner of Santa Barbara and Cota streets has been approved by the Santa Barbara City Council as the “preferred site alternative for review” for a new police station — and displacing the Farmer’s Market in the process.
Those who voted against designating the lot as the preferred site alternative were council members Jason Dominguez and Kristen Sneddon; Randy Rowse was absent for the voting.
Before the vote, however, the council listened to almost 60 speakers from the public who wished to express thoughts on the placement of the new police station.
Some of these speakers have gathered at De La Guerra Plaza for an event prior to the council meeting. The event was held by the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association as a way to celebrate farmers markets and unite those who do not want Saturday’s market to be moved from the commuter lot. There was music and complimentary food for folks before they filed into the Council Chamber for Tuesday’s council meeting.
“We’re here to just show the city council the amount of community support we have,” said Victoria Sarquilla, an on site manager with SBCFMA.
“If we lose the Cota lot, so far the options for another location have either been too far away or the businesses surrounding it aren’t interested in us being there.”
One of the potential sites of relocation for Saturday’s farmers market is De La Guerra Plaza adjacent to City Hall. Ms. Sarquilla pointed out that this space was in frequent use by other groups and organizations such as protests and Old Spanish Days.
“We’d be sharing an already small spot where not even our current existing farmers, which is 110 members, would fit,” Ms. Sarquilla said. “We wouldn’t be able to grow our market with new farmers which is really important to the local economy and to the local new sources.”
Saturday’s farmers market brings on average 5,000 people according to Ms. Sarquilla, and The French Press/Dune Coffee Roasters co-owner Julia Mayer did not want to see this clientele go. Ms. Mayer spoke out during public comment and described any potential relocation as “super risky” for those involved, and several others echoed her thoughts.
“We’ll be endangered. We feel endangered,” said Debby Takikawa, a farmer.
Council member Oscar Gutierrez asked SBCFMA General Manager Sam Edelman for the number of the market’s farmers who were Santa Barbara city residents.
Mr. Edelman replied, “I don’t know these demographics,” which Mr. Gutierrez said worries him.
“What I am worried about is that your farmers, they are not residents of the city, they are not the ones calling 9-1-1 here,” said Mr. Gutierrez. “There’s a disconnect because there’s 90,000 people who live here that rely on this police force, so I don’t think it is appropriate for outside business owners to dictate how a city will support their police.”
The preferred site alternative is required to be reviewed under the California Environmental Quality Act. If ground were broken for the construction of the police station, it would occur in about two years.