Downtown friends, not foes

DCBA and farmers’ market have every reason to work together

Mr. Chamberlain is president of the Downtown Chico Business Association’s Board of Directors.

Despite Melissa Daugherty’s accurate reporting (“Apples and Oranges,” Newslines, Aug. 13), the public discussion surrounding the Chico Certified Farmers Market has become one of the most egregiously misinformed in recent Chico politics, and that includes Walmart and disc golf.

The rumors about the Downtown Chico Business Association’s “agenda” are so unfounded that I must clarify.

First things first: The DCBA regards the CCFM as a valuable asset to the district. The gravity it creates each Saturday morning reacquaints thousands of visitors with downtown Chico’s undeniable charm, retail variety, and cultural richness. It is a wonderful event that showcases our city center, and we are fortunate to have it here. Our hope is that the CCFM continues to operate in downtown Chico.

Second, the DCBA is not advocating for the construction of a parking structure at the Second and Wall location, or any other location. The DCBA’s plan for managing parking resources is detailed in the study “A Walkable Downtown,” which was authorized unanimously by the City Council on July 15, 2008. Neither moving the market nor building a garage is part of the plan.

CCFM and DCBA board officers are in encouraging discussions about forming a partnership to collaborate on strategies that mutually benefit both organizations. These conversations proceed from assumptions of good will and willingness to compromise.

If the market is relocated, the DCBA pledges its assistance and support to make the transition as successful as possible. For example, the DCBA has developed best practices for marketing our events, including obtaining significant in-kind and pro-bono media and logistical support. We also have experience in vendor management, street closures, and security. We are happy to share these practices with the CCFM.

As for the location of the market, there are advantages and drawbacks to the current and proposed locations. Neither is ideal. Perhaps it’s time for thinking “outside the box,” literally. We all love the market, and we love the downtown. Surely there is enough creativity in our community to collaborate for the betterment of both.

The farmers vend in downtown for the very good reason that it works. Businesses operate downtown for the same reason. We have the opportunity to cooperate to keep our downtown a thriving commercial corridor for all.