Dialogue is key

A solution to the farmers’ market controversy will take conversations

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’re going to say this again. The only way to once and for all end the controversy surrounding the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market’s Saturday event is for all of the stakeholders—vendors, local brick-and-mortar businesses, and city officials—to sit down and have an open dialogue.

Vendors need to stay open-minded about potential changes and listen to the concerns of nearby business owners. Businesses need to be honest about their qualms with the event. And city leaders need to moderate the conversation with common-sense solutions. We would like the new city subcommittee to finally make headway on this longstanding dispute (see “Market confusion,” by Tom Gascoyne, page 9).

But to us, the answer isn’t difficult. The market has been at Second and Wall streets for more than 20 years. It’s become a Chico institution, and considering the alternative locations put forward in recent years, the best place for the market is at its current home.

We know from a city inspection a few years ago (see “Apples and oranges,” by Melissa Daugherty, Aug. 13, 2009) that the Chico Municipal Center lot isn’t feasible for the market. The parking bumpers and planters between aisles cut prime vending space. Plus, there are speed bumps throughout the lot. The space simply isn’t configured to accommodate such an event.

The thought that moving the market a few blocks south will mitigate a dearth of downtown parking does not hold up. Market shoppers will still drive downtown and will fill up the parking lot at Second and Wall. Others will park in the neighborhoods to the annoyance of homeowners.

Most nearby businesses don’t open their doors until 10 or 11 a.m. on Saturdays, so one compromise might be for the market to shut down an hour earlier, at noon. On the flipside, the market could be allowed to expand its operations to the entire lot.

The point is, there are potential solutions. Neither side may get exactly what they’d like, but that’s what compromise is all about. We’re pleased to see some movement on the issue, and urge all parties to keep the conversation going.