Stabilizing the market

The City Council’s vote on the farmers’ market will allow a permanent solution to occur

It was amazing to see the Chico City Council come to a unanimous decision in supporting the extension of the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market’s franchise agreement for the next 18 months at the CCFM’s current home at Second and Wall streets.

Had the council deadlocked yet again on the issue—as it did when considering a two-year extension last month—the market’s agreement would simply have been renewed without any further discussion on the issue. Until next year, that is. We’re certain grumblings of downtown merchants would have resurfaced yet again, and the problems between them and the market, real or perceived, would never come to any sort of resolution.

As it stands, the council’s decision forces supporters and opponents to find solutions within a specific timeline.

Whether that means finding a new downtown location for the market or making some simple concessions at the current site, at least the stakeholders will be working together. That’s what really needs to happen to give the market the permanence it deserves as such a vital and valuable resource.

What the market did not deserve was a rush job to find a new location. But that’s exactly what would have happened had the council terminated the franchise. Mayor Mary Goloff and City Manager Brian Nakamura should have known that it would be nearly impossible to engage in meaningful dialogue and come to a solution in a single meeting. The issue is simply too complex.

We hope that the process has opened Nakamura’s eyes to the kind of community Chico is and how civic engagement works here. The city manager said he had to endure a litany of criticisms regarding the issue. “It took me 90 minutes to get down one aisle [at the market] this past Saturday,” he said.

He shouldn’t take such criticisms personally. People are passionate about the market. That’s a good thing.