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Farmers Markets Threatened by New Special Event Fees

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Photo by Lucyrk in LA via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Photo by Lucyrk in LA via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
On the heels of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's announcement about a locally grown food policy, a move by city council has some farmers markets concerned about their survival. On September 1, the L.A. City Council passed a special events ordinance, changing the rules about how and which events are eligible to have fees waived for expenses like street closures. Some community events such as block parties get a break, but farmers markets do not under the current language.

"If non-profit organizations that operate Farmers' Markets are forced to pay these fees, it could result in market closures while severely limiting the ability of Farmers' Markets and other community events to operate in Los Angeles," explained the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, a group that runs seven local markets, in an e-mail urging people to call Villaraigosa and councilmembers to request for an ordinance amendment.

"Each district will get their own allotment for funding events," explained Julie Wong of Council President Eric Garcetti's office. She said Garcetti, among several other councimembers have committed to keeping all the markets open in their districts. "We feel we can cover our farmers markets [in Council District 13] with our allocation," she said.

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Additionally, Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a motion instructing the budget analyst to go back and figure out how to get farmers markets' fees waived, or at least a largely reduced permit fee.

Villaraigosa has until Friday to sign ordinance into law. His office did not respond to e-mails from LAist asking for comment on the situation.

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