This Little Piggy Went to Market
The Westwood Farmers’ Market takes place on Thursday afternoons on Weyburn Avenue and Glendon Avenue in Westwood Village. It’s a favorite of UCLA students and employees, as well as area residents and workers who look forward to perusing fresh flowers and produce while listening to the strains of live jazz.
However, the future of the market is somewhat up in the air as the organizers seek an alternative site within the Village. The current location has been ideal because few businesses were located along the portion of the T-shaped intersection formed by Glendon Avenue and Weyburn Avenue where the market was held each week. In addition, the two lots flanking the intersection have been the sites of proposed developments for many years, but progress was always thwarted by well-organized community opposition. That is about to change.
In August, Palazzo Westwood, a $100 million mixed-use project to be built on Glendon Avenue, was approved by the City Council after concessions were made by the developer to win the support of local homeowners and businesses. Once construction begins, even though Glendon Avenue will remain partially open, the market will have to move.
The problem now is finding a suitable alternate site. Two streets, Westwood Boulevard and Gayley Avenue are out of the running due to their status as major traffic arteries. Le Conte Avenue can barely contain its current volume of traffic. Other Village streets have numerous merchants that would be impacted by a weekly closure; some already feel that the market hurts business for them on Thursdays by serving as competition and eliminating already sparse parking.
This isn’t the only issue facing the market, which was organized in 1994 by the Southland Farmers' Market Association, a trade association that represents over 20 certified farmers' markets and more than 700 certified California producers. The Association expelled the Westwood Farmers’ Market in June for “financial irregularities” after organizers refused to account for expenses from the past several years; the group has never before expelled a market during 21 years of operation. The relationship between the two groups was already shaky before this break. In January 2004, Southland won a lawsuit against the Westwood Farmers’ Market because membership dues collected from growers at the market were not forwarded to the association.
The market has continued on without Southland’s support, but LAist wonders whether the difficulty in finding a new space will be the death knell for the market.