UPDATE: Downtown farmers market signs MOU with City of Santa Cruz to establish permanent home

The downtown Santa Cruz farmers market at its current site on Lot 4.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The downtown farmers market has become something of a political hot potato in the politicking around Measure O. While that measure aims to “preserve” Lot 4 for the market, market director Nesh Dhillon has been working to find the best “permanent” home for the Santa Cruz institution. This MOU shows movement on that work.

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On Friday, the City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Market entered into a formal agreement to establish a permanent home for the downtown farmers market in the city. The farmers market unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the city, and the city has approved $1.775 million to fund the project. The MOU is the result of more than five years of discussion between the city and the market.

The location of the market has become a point of contention in the conversation around Measure O, and it’s still unclear how this announcement may impact voters’ consideration of the measure. Further, it’s unclear the potential impact O might have on this agreement, should it pass.

The market has been clear and consistent, though, that it wants to control its own destiny — and siting. That continues to mean that the market considers its current location on Cathcart and Cedar streets just one possibility for a permanent home. One other prominent possibility: Lot 7, two blocks away, around which the city and the market have already outlined a sophisticated vision of an all-weather structure for the market, bathrooms, hookups for food trucks and other amenities. The market’s current Lot 4 home is set up in a large parking lot.

The 32-year-old downtown Santa Cruz market is almost ready to move to a new “permanent,” city-owned location a block and...

Both the city and the market have taken pains to say that the non-binding MOU is just another step in the long process. Both aim to find a permanent home — and a better one — for the market, with city funding is a shared goal, while the choice of a final location remains in process.

City Manager Matt Huffaker said other possible locations include nearby Lot 7 and “several other equally viable locations downtown. “We look forward to continuing our work with the market to find the best fit for them.”


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