Saturday farmer’s market patrons will need to buy their vegetables and fruits at a new location come mid-October when a sewer project begins on the current site next to City Hall.
Where exactly remains to be seen, but the City Council seemed to lean towards a temporary home atop the Glenneyre Street parking structure at a meeting Tuesday.
Other options included the combined sites of Second Street and the Peppertree parking lot across Forest Avenue or the Forest Avenue and Laguna Canyon parking lot adjacent to the current site.
City officials initially saw the need to relocate the farmer’s market during the October to May construction as a chance to explore temporary street closures for public activities. That’s why they asked staff to investigate locating the market on Second Street.
But when staff met with the Orange County Farm Bureau, which manages the Laguna market, they preferred the less glamorous Forest/Laguna Canyon parking lot, principal planner Wendy Jung told the Council. They found it to be easier for the community and vendors alike, since it is next to the current location. Additionally, it meets the Orange County Environmental Health requirement that vendors have access to a restroom with hot running water within 200 feet.
Their second choice was the Glenneyre Street lot since the size can accommodate their current vendors, and it has accessible handicapped parking, good traffic circulation and safe pedestrian access, as well as customer parking on the lower level of the structure. Its only downside would be complying with the health department’s restroom requirement, said Jung. They might need to collaborate with a nearby business to use their facilities or rent a portable trailer on market days, she said.
The Second Street and Peppertree lot option came in last. Flaws included its limited size and potentially hazardous pedestrian access since shoppers would likely jaywalk across Forest Avenue, Jung said. The location would also have the greatest impact on property owners, particularly Laguna Presbyterian Church, Dawson Cole Fine Art and Landmark Plaza, impeding access to their private parking lots. Further, accessible handicapped parking would be an issue.
The OC Farm Bureau objected to subdividing the market between Second Street and the Peppertree lot and preferred Second Street alone, as more visually appealing. But that location on its own would require a significant reduction in the market’s size, potentially leaving patrons of some vendors high and dry. Finding nearby restrooms would also be a concern, said Jung.
Even so, Council member Rob Zur Schmiede said he was a proponent for the Second Street location. Moving the market away from the lots next to City Hall would help alleviate Saturday morning traffic jams on the Third Street hill, he said. As for safety risks for shoppers, he said he was “sure that could be handled.”
Council member Toni Iseman said she initially supported the Second Street location until a church member pointed out the popularity of Saturday weddings. She shifted her preference to the Glenneyre Street venue.
Property owners and residents near the Glenneyre structure will receive notices that invite their feedback at a hearing over the market’s possible relocation, Jung said.