Could the Hollywood Farmers Market Cease Operations?

The Hollywood Farmers Market (HFM) has been a mainstay in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years.  However, the City has revoked the street closure permit for Market. Without the ability to legally close down streets, could this spell the end of a the farmers market in Hollywood?

The Market has been in existence since 1991.  (This is not to be confused with the Farmers Market by The Grove on Fairfax.)  It is operated by SEE-LA, Sustainable Economic Enterprise, Los Angeles, which also operates six other farmers markets across the Los Angeles Metro Area.  The HFM is its oldest, not to mention one of the largest in Southern California.
Today, the Hollywood Farmers Market brings together “approximately 90 farmers, 30 local artisans, and 30 baked goods and prepared food vendors who sell their own products every Sunday.” Furthermore, “it is a direct-to-consumer marketplace with all produce and products from local, California vendors and growers.”   But tomorrow, could it cease to exist?

The Market needs the okay from all the business owners along the streets it operates, namely the one block radius of the cross streets of Ivar and Selma in Hollywood.  Yes, the HFM does block a couple blocks.  Yes, the HFM does block access to businesses and properties.  It’s only for one day a week, for less than half a day.

However, the City needs to approve the street closures consent of the business owner.  One business owner is holding out, citing the need for access to his driveway.  The challenge is that the driveway is at the center of the HFM.  Without his/her consent, 30-50% of the HFM and its vendors could cease operations.

A petition was circulating the market, in support of extending the permit, despite the reluctance of the one business owner.  Almost everyone at the market was in support for the HFM.  Word spread fast among the vendors and the crowd.  Usually, there is a soul person begging for signatures.  But it’s a rare sight to see folks climbing over each other to sign a petition.  The community support is there.

Nevertheless, as business folk, let us play devil’s advocate for a moment.  Imagine for a moment.  Let’s say it is your sustainable foods brick and mortar business that is blocked by a weekly processed foods market.  You and your customers want access to your business, but neither of you may have it.

Don’t you, as the property owner have a right to access your property at your choosing?  Don’t you have the right to have guests or customers access to his or her property?  The streets are public after all.  There has to be an easement to your property at any given time, unless you rescind use of that easement, at a given time.

While I do hope the HFM can continue prosper to its fullest another 20+ years, I also do hope for an equitable solution for the property owner.  Perhaps engaging the property owner and the City as a stakeholder rather than adversary will find common ground.

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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