Uncertain future for local farmers: construction of a new police station may displace the Saturday morning Farmers' Market
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The Saturday morning Farmers’ Market is one of three locations the city is looking at for the construction of a new police station. Every Saturday for the last 35 years, the Farmers’ Market has taken place at the Cota Street Commuter parking lot. Many local farmers expressed concern over a potential move as they believe it could have a negative effect on their businesses.
The police station has resided on 215 East Figueroa Street since 1959. The original capacity for the station was 85 people, but there are now 220 employees and far too few parking spaces. The city and the police have been searching for a larger space and have now narrowed down their options. The other two locations that are being considered are the Lowry Center--a recreation center on De La Vina Street--and the Municipal Golf Course on Las Positas Road.
Many citizens have strongly opposed relocating the Farmers’ Market since it is responsible for “more than 50 percent of the income of all the markets in Santa Barbara,” according to The Independent. Additionally, KEYT reports that the farmers market draws 3,000 to 5,000 people every Saturday.
Anastasia Eichorn from Carpinteria Sage Hill Farm told the Horizon that the impact of the move depends “on where they would move us.” Eichorn feels that the location is very “central” and provides easy access for people on bikes, people who use walkers, and tourists. Even though no decision has been reached, she shared that her mother and many farmers--people who have been selling their produce for decades--are already in “crisis mode.” Overall Eichorn thinks that “a change in location here would be really devastating.”
Nancy Bertelsen from Bertelsen Ava expressed similar sentiments about the centrality of the market: “This is a very central location and we’ve been here for probably thirty or more years and it’s a very healthy crowd and healthy food and it’s stabilizing for Santa Barbara.”
Bertelsen also shared her opinions on what should be done about the police station situation. “My opinion is that they should keep their own police station for downtown to take care of the local crime and build a bigger one if they need more space. There are so many open spaces right now that they could move into.”
Kristin Collins of Creekside Apple Farms has been selling at the market since 1987. Collins shared that she thinks a move would be harmful to their businesses because customers’ routines would be thrown off and parking would become an issue. “Parking is so hard in Santa Barbara … so if we move to a new location that doesn’t have parking, that’s going to be a major issue.” Collins expressed her thoughts on the police station taking the lot: “you would think they would be able to find an empty space … instead of taking this beautiful place where they’re going to have to knock down all these trees and displace the community.”
Community leaders who are trying to prevent this change told the Horizon that if students would like to oppose the migration of the farmers market, you can call your local representatives or attend meetings on November 13th and 15th from 5:15-7:00 p.m. at the Franklin Neighborhood Center and La Cumbre Junior High, respectively.