Keep an open mind

Opposing parties must work together to solve issues surrounding farmers’ market

The ad-hoc group tasked with deliberating on the future of the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market is set to meet soon, and we’d like to urge all parties to be reasonable during the process.

CCFM advocates appear to be balking at the makeup of the committee (see Newslines, “Farmers rebel,” by Tom Gascoyne). But to us, the list of representatives seems evenly weighted between market advocates and downtown-business advocates, including a representative of the Downtown Chico Business Association and the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

The issue here is that the CCFM wants to stay at its home of 20 years at the municipal lot at Second and Wall streets, while several nearby business owners would like to see it move elsewhere.

For many years, a vocal minority of business owners, primarily those in or near the Garden Walk Mall, have lamented how the market takes away parking for their customers. This, they say, has hurt sales. However, other downtown business owners, especially restaurant and café owners, say that the market actually helps sales.

Meanwhile, CCFM representatives charge that all of downtown benefits from the event’s presence at its current location. They cite a study out of Chico State with quantitative data backing up their claims that farmers’-market attendees shop elsewhere downtown when visiting the market and that finding sufficient parking is not an issue.

We’re not certain what the answer is to once and for all solve the conflict between the two factions, but we do know that viable solutions must begin with discussions. We’re sorry to see the beginning of the talks getting off on the wrong foot.

CCFM representatives are understandably wary because, as it stands, their franchise agreement with the city for use of the parking lot will end in 17 months. But that’s assuming the outcome of the discussions leads to that decision. That has yet to be determined. We encourage all parties involved to come to the table with open minds.