By Dave Schwab
Proponents of a farmer's market to raise money for Bird Rock Elementary School squared off with detractors at the La Jolla Town Council’s meeting last week, packing the meeting room at Florence Riford Center March 10.
Market promoter Catt Fields White gave her third presentation to the community detailing plans for a Friday afternoon farmers market as a school fundraiser in front of La Jolla United Methodist Church off La Jolla Boulevard. She previously had spoken to La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (T&T) Committee and to Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC).
Following the promoter’s presentation, people living near the church in the Upper Hermosa neighborhood had a chance to present their concerns and both sides were allowed to ask a few questions. An informal show of hands indicated more people there opposed the project than were for it.
Opponents said they were supportive of finding alternative ways to fund Bird Rock Elementary and other local schools in the wake of recessionary budget cuts. They just felt a farmers market at the church site on Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m. was the wrong place at the wrong time and would lead to traffic congestion and parking problems.
“My main concern is about traffic, the added burden on La Jolla Boulevard on Fridays from noon to 8 p.m. where drivers will be forced to slow down or divert to side streets,” said Barbara Decker who lives near the church. “I’m also concerned about streets being closed off and people not being able to access their homes.”
Town Council Trustee Jennifer Clark asked the market promoter whether any research had been done on the viability of two markets held in the same community two days apart.
Fields White replied there are similar situations elsewhere among the 47 farmers markets across the county. She added weekday and weekend markets typically draw different crowds.
Sherry Ahern, who organized and has promoted the Open Aire Farmers Market held Sundays at La Jolla Elementary School for more than 10 years, expressed doubt the community could support two different markets so close together. She said there are a limited number of farmers, many of whom she said will not participate in two different markets in the same neighborhood.
Town Council President Rick Wildman said the council would hold another discussion on the item after it has worked its way through the other community groups and allow for greater debate. At that time, he added, the council could take a stand on the market proposal.
After the meeting, Joe LaCava, president of La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA), which makes recommendations to the city on land-use, detailed the approval process Bird Rock market proponents will have to go through to get city approval.
“It will have to go back to T&T, and then to the LJCPA, which is recognized by the city as the official voice of La Jolla,” he said. “CPA will simply make a recommendation approving or denying it.”
LaCava said the market proposal would then go to the city’s Special Events Department for their review. To see the process for a permit, go to
lick on the "Special Events" link near the lower left-hand corner.
“They’re the ones that will (or won’t) issue the permit after taking input from the community,” he said.
Erin Demorest of First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office said the Special Events Department is under the direction of the mayor’s office.
“Special events permits don’t require (City) Council approval and can’t be appealed to the Council,” she said in an e-mail.