An opportunity lost

The City Council dropped the ball by not granting the farmers’ market a two-year lease

The City Council bungled things by not granting the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market a longer lease for the city parking lot it uses at Second and Wall streets each Saturday.

Typically on a year-to-year lease, market organizers had agreed to pay for an extension of power and sewer lines in return for a two-year lease. That would have been beneficial to Chico residents in several ways: First, it would have allowed the CCFM to provide better restroom facilities for its vendors and customers. And as a result, that would have alleviated concerns of downtown business owners who say market customers come into their shops only to use the restroom.

But the council’s stalemate vote ended the opportunity to do so. The decision was a bad deal all around.

Approving the extended lease would not have locked the city into an indefinite agreement with CCFM, and the upgrades would cost taxpayers nothing. The market’s offer wasn’t chump change. It would have cost the organization approximately $16,000. But that’s a lot cheaper than what it would cost down the road, following the completion of the downtown couplet project.

So now nobody wins. The market likely will stay in its home of the last 20 years, but without upgrades it desperately needs. And business people and the CCFM are at odds more than ever. That won’t make it any easier to finally put an end to the debate about whether the market has a detrimental economic impact on nearby businesses or the possible solutions to parking or other problems.

We’re not convinced that the market is harmful to downtown sales. In fact, a survey out of Chico State implies the opposite is true. But we’re also not convinced that the CCFM has fully vetted ways to compromise over this long-debated issue. We hope the stakeholders will continue discussions, now that the city has dropped the ball.