The Chico farmers market fights to keep its location

CHICO, Calif. - Supporters of Chico's Saturday farmers market got some good news on Tuesday night from the city council after the mayor proposed cutting their lease by the end of the year.

It is an issue that has been brewing in Chico for the past two weeks – whether to move Saturday's farmers market that sits in the parking lot off 2nd and Wall Streets to the City Hall parking lot.

"It was a surprising action at the last minute," said Natalie Carter, office manager of the Chico Certified Farmer's Market.

The idea came from Mayor Mary Golof and ever since, she said she has been getting a lot of support from businesses downtown concerned about the effect the market has on parking.

"I really feel an obligation that when downtown merchants come to me with an issue, I listen," said Golof.

Golof came up with the idea to cut the market's lease by the end of this year and thought that moving to the market just a few blocks down would not be a problem.

"From my perspective as the mayor, I feel my responsibility is to promote economic development," said Golof.

However, for some, the idea to cut the lease and move the market is a big problem.

Protestors crowded outside of City Hall on Tuesday saying that the mayor's plan is not going to work. That opinion was also heard in the late hours of the meeting Tuesday night.

"I think I have done the best I can to bring this stuff forward but I'm one of seven and we do have to pull along the rest of the council," said city councilman Randall Stone.

Stone has been working on improving the farmers market ever since he took office six months ago. He says this battle between the market and the city has been going on for 22 years.

"That's embarrassing! Despite my effort for the last six months I have been working hard to come to an agreement and that effort was ignored," said Stone.

For now, the Chico Certified Farmers Market is excited that they bought some time to figure this all out.

"We are looking forward having all the players come to the table and try to figure out the right solution," said Carter.

The farmers market's lease will be up in December of 2014 and Mayor Golof said the city did a survey two months ago to see how the community feels about this issue. They should get those answers in August.

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