There will likely be a few verbal rotten tomatoes tossed at this afternoon’s meeting of Pacific Grove’s Economic Development Commission. On the agenda is the somewhat controversial proposal to add a second—and swankier—farmers market to the city’s weekly schedule.
The nonprofit Everyone’s Harvest has operated a Monday afternoon farmers market near Jewell Park in P.G. for over a decade. The new proposal would bring in Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Market to host a market each Thursday from 3-7pm. It would take place on Lighthouse Avenue, closing part of the downtown street from set up to take down.
Supporters of the plan consider a Thursday evening event as a “gateway to the weekend”—part marketplace, part street party. The proposal includes cooking demonstrations, pop up restaurants, wine and beer tastings, live music and more. City officials initially approached Everyone’s Harvest with a similar plan, moving the regular Monday event to Thursday several years ago but the nonprofit declined.
MBCFM currently operates Carmel Farmers Market (seasonal on Tuesdays) Monterey Peninsula College Certified Market (year-round on Thursdays) and the Del Monte Certified Farmers Market (seasonal on Sundays).
There are two other regular farmers markets on Thursdays—in Salinas and Soledad—and both run into the evening.
The proposal was first discussed at the Economic Development Commission in January. Some associated with Everyone’s Harvest, host of the city’s longstanding Monday afternoon farmers market were none to pleased with the idea. Those who object to the idea raised fears that a second farmers market in P.G. would doom the Monday event, or at least force some vendors to choose between the two.
A subcommittee formed by the EDC during that meeting also cited potential impacts on traffic and parking, as well as doubts about support for two markets in the city. However, they also anticipate additional foot traffic downtown, which may be a boon for shops and restaurants.
As outlined by the EDC, the proposal calls for a trial period for the Thursday market, beginning on May 14 and running for six months. During this span, the city will conduct surveys to gauge the market’s sustainability.
If the commissioners vote in favor, they will pass on a recommendation to the City Council for a decision.
The Economic Development Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13 at 4pm in the council chamber at City Hall, 300 Forest Ave.
UPDATE: The EDC vote was a tie, 3-3, so the proposal failed and will not be presented to City Council. The commissioners were split on impacts of a market on Lighthouse Avenue, says City Manager Ben Harvey. Concerns were expressed about traffic and whether existing businesses would be harmed. Harvey expects the proposal to come back to the EDC in a different form in the future.