Farmers Market referendum faces legal hurdle

CHICO, Calif. - New documents show that an initiative to expand and lengthen the lease agreement between the Saturday Farmers Market and the City of Chico may be contrary to the state constitution.  

The initiative has yet to qualify for the November ballot. According to a memorandum by city attorney Vincent Ewing, it is in violation of Article Two, Section 12 of the California State Constitution, conferring special privileges or advantages on specific persons or organizations.

Supporters of the Farmers Market initiative say it has more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.  But according to the City Clerk Deborah Presson, that may not matter.

"They can continue their initiative efforts," said Presson, who is also an elections official. "Depending on that the council will have to meet and decide what they're going to do with (the initiative)."

Supporters of the Saturday Farmers Market want to keep the event in its current location in the parking lot at 2nd and Flume Streets and expand the size of the market.   But city officials have proposed moving it to the parking lot behind City Hall, two blocks away at 4th and Flume Streets. 

Some business owners near the current location have said the market limits parking on Saturdays and they want to keep the market from expanding.

KRCR News Channel 7 contacted the Farmers Market supporters to learn how this legal opinion will affect their plans, but they have yet to return our call.

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