Endive and eyesores

Midtown gets it right with a new farmers market, still can’t figure out trashy lots and deadbeat landlords

Did you know that Midtowners never eat fresh vegetables? They all run on Old Soul coffee, Pieces pizza and Ginger Elizabeth ice-cream sandwiches, natch.

OK, that’s dumb. But one might assume as much, since the Midtown doesn’t have its own farmers market. Downtown boasts six different farmers markets during the popular summer months, but the grid east of 15th Street can’t even get a fruit stand.

Makes no sense. You’d think the powers that be over the years—decades—would’ve waved a magic celery stick and gotten the watermelon rolling with a proper farmers market. Sacto is the “Farm-to-Fork” capital of the galaxy, lest we forget.

Anyway, Liz Studebaker gets it. She took over the Midtown Business Association last year, and this Saturday, the neighborhood’s healthy-eats moratorium ends with the Midtown Farmers Market’s debut. Spearheaded by Studebaker, the 45-vendor gathering will post up in a J Street parking lot between 20th and 21st streets from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It probably wasn’t easy to kick-start—I’ve been hearing rumblings of a farmers market for almost a year now—but it’s finally happening.

A lot of people have asked whether this new market will threaten Sunday’s downtown one under the freeway. My answer: No, and who cares? Because if there aren’t enough consumers of fresh produce or local goods to go around, then Sacramento will have bigger problems than just underattended farmers markets.

Which brings us to Chipotle. I have no real beef with the megachain, other than I’m not really into supersized, gooey burritos. But its stores don’t dominate Sacto’s grid—there’s only one location on 19th Street—and the company tries hard to source ethical, natural ingredients. Or at least that’s the marketing spin. I was even bored the other day and bought one of those new “Sofritas” tofu burritos, which they’re guinea-pigging here in Midtown. New dumb name, same gooey-burrito indigestion.

Anyway, I mention Uncle Chip because a stone’s throw off the grid in East Sacramento, a new Chipotle restaurant’s going up on Folsom Boulevard. Which is fine—except for the fact that this new development and signage completely blocks the streetside view of Corti Brothers.

A pet peeve: My eyebrows frizzle when new buildings or signs overtake existing, oftentimes iconic Sacramento landmarks. It’s not topography; it’s milieu, and it defines us. I don’t care what you do in Roseville or El Dorado Hills. But the city’s code should better preserve Sacramento’s historic and traditional aesthetic. Let’s not block the view.

And, in this case, Corti’s retro facade is timeless.

Speaking of eyesores: Six years ago, vigilante Midtowners were sick of the weeds and trash overwhelming the lot on the corner of N and 21st streets. Some jerk even dumped a toilet there. But pesky residents cleaned the junk out, trimmed back the overgrown brush and landscaped the space. They brought in a bench, built a pathway through the forgotten lot and even grew flowers in the toilet. “Corner Park” was christened.

And then, the lot owner, ever responsible, tore the park down and erected a lovely chain-link fence.

Fast-forward to today: Still the same fence, still an ugly stamp on an otherwise pleasant Midtown block. And, as happens each spring, the weeds are back in full waist-high force.

I called 311, not because I thought it would change things, but just to see how it goes for residents who file code-violation complaints. A polite city employee told me on Tuesday that an officer would visit and check the lot out in 10 to 14 days. She added that weeds would have to be at least 3-feet high before a citation would be written.

There are, of course, hundreds of lots just like this one, and they surely keep the code team busy. At least some things never change.