L.A. Film School Tries To Push Hollywood Farmers Market -- A Sunday Tradition -- Off Precious School Parking Lot
Updated throughout with clarifications and additional commentary from both sides. This is so not about parking. Originally posted on Dec. 6 at 5:10 p.m.
hollywoodfarmersmarket.net Where ever will we get our organic chard bouquets?
The answer is dodgy, as expected: Officials at the art college claim they didn't technically petition the L.A. City Council to shut down the market, just to "modify its footprint." In other words, force it to pack up and move to an unspecified alternate location or be cut in half. (Full statement after the jump.)
Like... where? The school's spokesman, Antoine Ibrahim, only has one suggestion:
That the market cut itself in half, operating solely on Selma Avenue instead of both Selma and Ivar Avenues. Aside from that, he can only metaphorically shrug his shoulders and speak to the L.A. Film School's parking needs.
"The school has seen incredible growth," Ibrahim says. "And the weekends are big. Students don't have class on those days, but they use those labs for their projects ... and you've got to include visitors on those days."
Google Maps The coveted Hollywood concrete
Farmers market manager Pompea Smith says she doesn't understand why the school doesn't just use its parking structure, to which it currently does have open access during the nine-hour Sunday closure.
"On the rooftop, there are 120 spaces, but we don't see too many people using the parking structure on Sunday," Smith says. "We're trying to to better understand why we cannot stay at that location... For those six hours, couldn't [L.A. Film School] use parking in another location? But they don't seem to want that."
The closure of Ivar on Sundays blocks one of the school's two parking lots. Ibrahim stresses that students and staff trying to access the sound stages and labs attached to Lot 6353 are deterred by the market.
He has no estimate of how many students and staff, exactly, need to use those facilities every Sunday, but stresses that there is currently a total of 1,500 students, with more enrolling every term.
Compare that to the 150 vendors who depend on the weekly market for their livelihood and the 10,000 customers (estimated by KTLA) who support them. Smith told KTLA that if the market's permit is taken away, vendors will be robbed of the collective $130,0000 they rake in on any given Sunday. This could have more widespread consequences:
And with the loss of that income, 7 other smaller farmers' markets in low income areas like Watts, Crenshaw, South Central, Echo Park, East Hollywood and Atwater Village that are supported by the Hollywood Farmers' Market could also be forced to close.
As of this morning, ABC7 reported that the Hollywood Farmers Market would be confined to Selma Avenue, just as the L.A. Film School proposed, by next Sunday.
But Smith says that after a meeting today with city officials -- "the Department of Community Services, the Department of Transportation, mayor's deputies, [City Council President Eric] Garcetti's deputies" -- the farmers market has been given an extension, and will be able to continue as-is for the next month.
Meanwhile, she says the Department of Transportation will look into possible alternatives. But they all sound pretty awkward: dividing the market into two parts; using narrow side-streets; erecting water-weighted cone barriers along Ivar; etc.
Wouldn't it be easier to all just get along?
Our tip to L.A. Film Schoolers: Take a load off. On the seventh day, he rested, remember? So fashion yourself an organic fruit cup and mill about the streets of your sunshiny city with the rest of Hollywood. You never know when inspiration will hit.
Update #1: Here's the L.A. Film School statement in its entirety -- skirting all responsibility, as expected.
"The Los Angeles Film School strongly supports the Hollywood Farmer's Market and has asked for it to be relocated so both students and patrons can be served. Our school looks forward to working with the market and the city to find an amicable solution. Unlike the characterization of earlier stories, the Los Angeles Film School has not asked to shut down the Hollywood Farmer's Market, instead the school has only requested the market footprint be modified to allow its students, teachers and visitors the ability to access their parking lot. Given the schools growth over the years, it has more than ever become critical for our students and teachers to have access to our parking lot seven days a week."
Update #2: The city will not extend the market's permit another month -- instead, says market manager Smith, vendors will only be guaranteed the use of Ivar for one more Sunday. In addition, a hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday. (Her lawyer is appealing the suddenness of the court date, so we're waiting to hear whether it will still go down. Garcetti's office says probably not.)
L.A. Film School rep Ibrahim, who thought the school was incorrectly portrayed in this story (and many others), now says that this whole thing is not entirely about parking, which was always pretty apparent.
He says the school has big plans for events and expansion in the future -- at its Ivar Theatre in particular -- and didn't want to sign a Hollywood Farmers Market street-closure permit that would take away those options for another whole year.
"If the farmers market ceased and desisted this Sunday, there's not going to be much traffic," he says. "But I'll tell you, given the chance, we'd start holding events and open up our equipment room -- which is closed on Sundays because of the market. It's about more than parking, but we never wanted to say that, because that's the legal argument."
For the last 20-odd years, the L.A. City Council has been able to approve any street closure it likes without the signatures of nearby businesses. But a year ago, that process changed -- now, all events/people/fests wanting to close a street in Los Angeles must get the approval of 51 percent of businesses on affected city blocks.
This November, the Hollywood Farmers Market's permit needed renewing. That's when the school saw it could have a say (it takes up more than 51 percent of Ivar).
A spokesperson for City Council President Garcetti (who heads the Hollywood district) says the councilmember is "personally invested" in preserving the market, and is working to find a solution. Thing is, there's been an entire year in which anyone could have noticed the film school's discontent -- they've made it public since the beginning -- and looked for other locations for the market.
The Hollywood Farmers Market didn't do it. The L.A. Film School didn't do it (though now Ibrahim suggests the nearby Urban Outfitters parking lot as a possibility). The Department of Public Works didn't do it. The Planning and Land Use Committee didn't do it.
"There are solutions being put out there that we are totally for," says Ibrahim. "But the farmers market keeps shooting everything down."
Market manager Smith says the school never expressed to her -- before now -- that it wanted the market off Ivar. Though Garcetti's office says all L.A. farmers markets were notified by Public Works when the permit process changed a year ago, Smith says she knew nothing until this November.
So now we're in the final hour, and the L.A. Film School is getting all the blame. But they do own the land, and -- legally -- have a solid case for doing what they want with it.