Fight Not Over: Hollywood Farmers Market Gets 90-Day Extension but No Final Deal
Felicia Friesema Vendors at the 12-12 Hollywood market show their support.
First, the market was on its last legs. Then, it wasn't. Then, it was -- again. Then there was a protest at City Hall by the South Central Farmers Cooperative. Then, LAFS and SEE-LA sat down for a 14-hour long negotiating session mediated by Councilmember Eric Garcetti's office. That's all in the last two weeks.
The hubbub surrounding a few statements made this past weekend probably left a few folks scratching their heads, so a synopsis seems in order.
Sunday, December 5th - SEE-LA, the Hollywood Farmers Market managing organization, begins collecting signatures for a petition to help "preserve the market." Signs posted say it's the market's last day, that it has no street permit and that it's because the Los Angeles Film School won't agree to the closure of a section of Ivar that allows access to one of their three parking lots. Commentary ensues.
Friday, December 10th - SEE-LA sends out an update e-mail to vendors and supporters saying it has been granted a four-week extension of its street permits.
Sunday, December 12th - The market is on, and so is some highly visible mobilization on behalf of SEE-LA. LAFS is there, too, but the two school representatives who address the growing and frustrated crowd depart abruptly when the crowd grows large. LAFS distributes a Myths/Facts sheet. Vendors, now aware of what's going on, don "Save the Hollywood Farmers Market" t-shirts. Meanwhile, people are buzzing about an LA Times editorial that says the market should be saved and points the finger at the city.
Monday, December 13th - A long interview with the LAFS spokesperson, Antoine Ibrahim, reveals the nuances hidden behind all the shouting. In summation, it's not so much the number of parking spaces available as it is an access issue. LAFS has two totally separate and unconnected buildings that force visitors, students and faculty to enter through only a handful of access points. A negotiating meeting scheduled for this day is pushed back to Thursday. Meanwhile, SEE-LA board chair, Michael Woo, and recently contracted PR rep for LAFS, Adam Englander, do the local public radio talk show circuit, starting with Warren Olney's "Which Way LA" on KCRW and Larry Mantle's "AirTalk" on KPCC.
Thursday, December 16th - The Meeting. Councilmember Eric Garcetti mediates between LAFS, represented by the school's Vice President of Operation Jenna Langer, and SEE-LA. 14 hours later, a 90-day extension for the market's street permits is in place and there is a verbal commitment from all sides to come to some sort of solution during that time. SEE-LA's offcial statement is posted to the Slow Food LA website, and ends with the following:
"We will work with the Department of Transportation to research alternative market layouts on adjacent streets, which could relocate many of the farmers currently south of Selma on Ivar Ave., and could present the opportunity for the market to expand, which Council President Garcetti indicated he would support. The LA Film School will consider construction options to connect its parking structures and provide access to their facilities 24/7. Most importantly, the Council President affirmed that he is committed to:
* Maintaining the market's current size and number of vendors,
* Maintaining its accessibility to the public and vendors, and
* Ensuring the safety of its customers and vendors."
Saturday, December 18th - Councilmember Eric Garcetti's office sends out a press release detailing the bits and pieces of the verbal agreements reached on Thursday, but LAFS is notably absent as a partner in the joint statement. Woo sends out a follow up statement, which says, "Up until almost midnight last night, Councilman Garcetti and his staff tried to negotiate mutually-acceptable language which would reflect the basic interests of each side. In the end, we were not able to come up with language which would satisfy the Film School. That is the reason why the Film School is not officially signing-off on the [joint statement]."
Sunday, December 19th - Despite heavy rains, the market goes on and is crowded with soaked market patrons. Absent are the previous week's mobilization efforts, probably because everyone is using every available resource to keep things dry. Still, things hum along with no petition drives or information about the 90-day extension.
Monday, December 20th - LAFS' spokesperson, Antoine Ibrahim, tells us: "We're looking forward to working with SEE-LA and the city to come to some mutually beneficial solution." He goes on to note that the 90-day extension for the market makes sense, in that it gives everyone ample time to work out their differences and get down to details. As to why LAFS didn't sign off on the joint statement, Ibrahim said that he knew they had been working on something that everyone could agree on and that they would continue to work with the city on the joint statement. Calls to Councilmember Garcetti's office were not returned in time for this report.