Possible alternative locations for Hollywood farmers market explored

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Will the Hollywood farmers market agree to move, or dig in its heels? At a boisterous, well-attended meeting Sunday morning, leaders of the nonprofit group that sponsors the market presented an update about the market’s ongoing dispute with the Los Angeles Film School over access to a parking structure on Ivar Avenue, and sought comment from the public about how it should respond.


Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), which sponsors the market and organized the meeting at the Montalbán Theatre on Vine Street, just east of the Hollywood market, told about 80 shoppers, farmers and local business and property owners about proposals to reconfigure the market’s footprint, such as moving at least some vendors to Hollywood Boulevard or Vine Street.

The market is located on Ivar Avenue between Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, and on the central portion of Selma Avenue between Cahuenga Boulevard and Vine Street. The film school, which is located on the market’s southeastern stretch, has greatly increased enrollment in recent years and wants access for its students and faculty to the northernmost of its three parking structures on Ivar south of Selma, which is currently blocked on Sunday mornings by the market.

“We would prefer not to move and not to change our footprint in any way,” said Michael Woo, chairman of the SEE-LA board. “We’ve expressed a willingness to look at these alternatives. But we would not want to agree to any move which would require us to pay additional costs.”

Jenna Langer, vice president of operations at the Los Angeles Film School, attended the meeting as an unofficial observer, but presented the school’s position in response to questions. The school was willing to help cover the costs of moving the market, she said.

John Kaliski, an architect hired by SEE-LA to study potential reconfigurations, discussed several scenarios in which the market would give up Ivar Avenue between Selma Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, as the film school wishes. One possibility would be to move the displaced vendors to Hollywood Boulevard between Cahuenga Boulevard and Vine Street, which could actually give the market as many as 50 additional stalls.

However, Hollywood Boulevard is a major thoroughfare, and closing it would require considerable trouble and expense for traffic control, including barriers and police officers. Additionally, it is not clear that a majority of business owners on the affected blocks would sign off on the plan, as is required by city regulations.

“Any reconfiguration of the market outline that would involve either Hollywood or Vine would be a nightmarish disruption of civic life, of traffic, and of commerce,” said David Saperia, a marketgoer. “I can’t imagine that this could possibly work.”

Several other attendees expressed similar opinions. But Langer said after the Montalbán event that in a recent meeting, representatives of the city considered the moving of the market to Hollywood Boulevard or Vine Street a practical alternative. “They had folks from the Department of Transportation and [Board of] Public Works, and they didn’t think that traffic would be an issue,” she said.

Kaliski also looked at two smaller streets adjacent to the market, Cosmo Street and Morningside Court, but he said these are so narrow that vendors could not be placed on them without violating Fire Department regulations. They also would block off local businesses, including parking garages, he added.

A parking lot at the southwest corner of Selma and Ivar avenues was initially considered, said Kaliski, but proved unsuitable because the space is already used by vendors for setting up the market.

Several attendees proposed that the film school could replace the 120 to 150 parking spaces in the structure blocked on Sunday mornings by spaces at the large ArcLight Cinemas garage a block south of Sunset.

“I think that’s a great suggestion,” said the film school’s Langer, who added after the meeting that though the immediate problem is access to the parking structure, “ultimately the film school is interested in finding a longer term solution.”

Contrary to several reports, though, Langer said the film school had no plans to put up a new building near the intersection of Ivar and Selma avenues — at least for right now. “That would not be an option any time in the immediate future,” she said. “We’ve developed no concrete plans.”

The controversy arose as a result of a recent city ordinance that requires annual renewal of street closure permits, which gave affected property and business owners, including the film school, an opportunity to object to the continued presence of the market.

Marta Segura, district director for City Council President Eric Garcetti, whose district contains the Hollywood market, noted that her office had submitted a motion to study the ordinance, to see whether improvements could be made to it.

Members of Garcetti’s office, the market and the film school will meet next on May 17, when the market’s current temporary street closure permit expires, although it will very likely be renewed for a limited period.

For now, the deadlock continues. Later this week SEE-LA will decide whether to proceed with further study of shifting the market’s footprint.

What if the market digs in its heels and refuses to move? The likely outcome from such a standoff is unclear, but Segura of Garcetti’s office said, “We are 100% supportive of the decisions that will be made by SEE-LA and the Hollywood farmers market.”

And the film school’s Langer said, “We don’t want to go to litigation, we don’t want to force the market to shut down.”

For the record, 12:19 p.m. May 3: A previous version of this post misspelled David Saperia’s name as Superia.

-- David Karp