Guest Column: Integral to the Community

I am a vendor at the Malibu Farmers Market, and have been for some time now. More importantly, I have been a resident of Malibu for 30 plus years. Wearing both hats, I have watched, listened and read the exchanges between the Cornucopia Foundation, Santa Monica College and the local government agencies involved with the plans for the Civic Center area, where the Malibu Farmers Market currently operates each Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

It was my understanding that verbal assurances were given, and agreements made, that the Cornucopia Foundation would be able to continue normal operations during the construction and establishment of the Santa Monica College project. The wording used was that the Malibu Farmers Market would be allowed to continue “as is—as promised.” In fact, Maria Chong-Castillo, deputy for public works, promised on video that the Malibu Farmers Market would remain running “as is—as promised.” During the planning stages of the project, the Cornucopia Foundation worked diligently to ensure that its voice was heard, and that those assurances and promises were not forgotten. Leases and agreements were promised to the Cornucopia Foundation that never materialized. The Cornucopia Foundation sent letter upon letter to Santa Monica College and the local government agencies asking for the promised agreements to be provided to them in written form. Each time, the correspondence either went unacknowledged or, in instances when someone finally responded, the Cornucopia Foundation was assured that they had not been forgotten and that they (Santa Monica College and/or Los Angeles County) would get back to them shortly.

As of the date of this letter*, the Cornucopia Foundation has said that it has not been advised by either Santa Monica College or Los Angeles County about how the future construction of the new school campus will impact the Malibu Farmers Market, or even if the current location will still be available. The lack of information not being shared with the Cornucopia Foundation, after giving assurances that the market and its vendors would be allowed to continue operations “as is—as promised” was at first disappointing. Bureaucracy at its best is still too slow for most of us. But here we are months later, it’s clear that things are moving and shaking down at the Civic Center, and yet the Cornucopia is no closer to knowing what the future holds for it, or the myriad of small farmers and vendors who rely on the income from this market. In my opinion, the lack of transparency from Santa Monica College and Los Angeles County has gone from disappointing to alarming.

I love the Malibu Farmers Market. I love the people. I love our vendors. I love the beautiful and convenient location, with ample parking for our customers. I love the ambiance and atmosphere that a well-run, clean, certified farmers market gives to our community, and that I and my products are part of that.

As a resident who knows how much our farmers and vendors depend on this market, I am alarmed that there seems to be no consideration or thought for the farmers and vendors that wait anxiously for news on what the future holds for them in the City of Malibu. There is a meeting scheduled on Oct. 10 between all parties to discuss the location of the Malibu Farmers Market. I’m not clear what there is to discuss since promises were already made that the Malibu Farmers Market would not be impacted by the construction and that they could continue to operate “as is—as promised,” unless the Cornucopia Foundation is going to be presented with something in writing that reflects the verbal promises that were made. However, that seems doubtful. I know that the Malibu Farmers Market is not in the purview of the City of Malibu. They said so at one of the City of Malibu meetings I attended, so I have it on the best authority. But I would argue that this is our city. And the happenings at the Civic Center are in our city, although the Civic Center is controlled by Los Angeles County. I would hope that our City of Malibu would raise its voice in support of our Malibu Farmers Market, that they would hold accountable Santa Monica College and Los Angeles County to the promises that have been made. And it would be in our best interests that, if all else fails and Santa Monica College and Los Angeles County renege on their promises, that the City of Malibu would be ready to offer up the recently purchased Chili Cook-Off site in its stead. I am looking forward to the Oct. 10 meeting and hope that at its conclusion, transparency will win the day, and that the Malibu Farmers Market will be able to continue in its current venue “as is—as promised.” 

*Editor’s note: This letter was submitted on Sept. 28.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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