Stating that they have in “good faith, taken a solution-oriented approach to work towards a reasonable resolution,” members of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association has taken a more vocal stance on the market’s potential relocation to De la Guerra Plaza on Saturdays.
“Every Saturday the Downtown Santa Barbara farmers’ market hosts up to 110 certified agricultural producers throughout the year and attracts 5,000-plus peak-season attendees. It is our strong belief that the SBCFMA serves our community, and it is in the community’s best interest for the Downtown Santa Barbara farmers’ market to remain in the Cota Street Commuter Lot,” reads a statement distributed at Tuesday’s Farmers Market on State Street.
Officials have been looking for a venue to host the Saturday Farmers Market since voters approved a new police station as part of Measure C in 2017 — with the Cota Street commuter lot being targeted as the location.
The report on the location of the new police station has yet to be presented to the City Council, leaving the Farmers Market awaiting word on whether it will be forced to change venues.
According to the association, members have worked diligently over the past nine months to find a solution that accommodates the parking, layout and access needed to host the Farmers Market.
One idea was to relocate the market to De la Guerra Plaza, which is being eyeballed by city officials for an overhaul regardless. But the SBCFMA has concerns over both parking and the ability to grow the Farmers Market due to the finite space in the plaza.
“The total site is more compact, limiting growth,” the statement said. “The SBCFMA has placed a moratorium on accepting any new participants to our Saturday Downtown farmers’ market in case we are forced to relocate to a smaller space. The process of redesigning De la Guerra is complex and would involve many stakeholders, and regulatory groups. Fulfilling the needs of the Farmers’ Market may not be in line with the greater community requests of a renovated Plaza.”
The association says the Farmers Market has become a staple for locals over the past 35 years, hence the reason why it is fighting so hard to properly address the situation.
“It supports thousands of families with their food needs, as well as a close connection with the 110 farmers whose fiscal stability depends on its success. The Saturday market generates more revenue than all the other five SBCFMA markets combined, which financially supports our local farmers and their thousands of collective employees,” the statement reads.
“A small percentage decrease in sales on Saturday could potentially lead to the closure of other markets and likely drive farmers away in search of a better market in other cities to fit their business needs.”