Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Site for Farmers' Market Rejected

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Plans for a weekly farmers' market of fruits and vegetables at City Hall are rotting on the vine.

Organizers who have been stymied for the past several months over a site for the proposed market learned Monday that their preferred location at the City Hall parking lot has been rejected.

The Ventura County Certified Farmers' Market Assn. wanted to have the weekly outdoor market in Santa Clarita's City Hall parking lot. After distributing 400 flyers to nearby businesses and residents of the Valencia Boulevard building advertising the farmers' market proposal, the group was told that such an operation would be forbidden.

Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for the Newhall Land & Farming Co., said a farmers' market, or any retail operation, is forbidden at City Hall and other office buildings along that particular stretch of Valencia Boulevard.

"It would not be allowed in Newhall Land's parking lot, the mall's parking lot, or in the Auto Club's parking lot," Lauffer said, referring to other offices along the Valencia Boulevard.

Lauffer said the restrictions are included in the area's Covenants, Codes and Restrictions--known as CC&Rs--which; are applied to residential and commercial properties, ostensibly to maintain property values. CC&Rs; for the City Hall parking lot are monitored by Newhall Land as the original owner of the Valencia property that was sold to Santa Clarita in 1992.

Lauffer said Newhall Land only learned of Santa Clarita's proposal to use the City Hall lot last week.

The Ventura County Farmers' Market Assn. in January suggested a market for Santa Clarita, and has been looking ever since for a site that will accommodate parking for at least 200 cars.

"We've looked at quite a few," said Karen Wetzel, market manager for the association.

The City Hall parking lot was not the first farmers' market site to be rejected. Newhall Park was the first site considered for the market, but residents rejected the idea because the park is already crowded, Wetzel said.

Santa Clarita has reportedly received more than 500 letters and phone calls supporting the farmers' market. The City Council was scheduled to vote tonight on the City Hall site.

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