At Pacific Beach Planning Group's June meeting, it was revealed that both the city and the Metropolitan Transit Service, which operates bus routes near the existing Pacific Beach Farmers Market, would both charge significant additional fees to shift the market a couple of blocks from a side street to a section along the Garnet Avenue business district.
"It's unfortunate that the PB Farmer's Market is being charged an estimated $1,500 per week from the police, and an estimated $1,000 per week from MTS, which adds up to roughly $130,000 per year,” said Tony Franco, a PBPG board member speaking on his own behalf and not the group's.
Noting PB's Farmers Market “only generates $70,000 annually,” Franco asked, “Why can't we allow progress in PB by closing down Garnet Avenue? This is a great opportunity to test our neighborhood and see how it reacts when we close down Garnet Avenue on a regular basis. We can always revert back to Bayard Street."
MTS weighed in on the prospect of changing the venue of the Farmers Market from less well-traveled Bayard to more heavily-trafficked Garnet.
“As with all city permits to close streets, affected parties are asked to submit comments,” said Rob Schupp, MTS director of marketing and communications. “As the PB Farmers Market will have significant impacts on transit operations, MTS cited the impacts, which include: deviating three different routes, losing access to bus stops and causing delays to service that would impact thousands of passengers (delays on one end of the route will impact the entire route and all of our riders).”
Schupp and the MTS also noted: “Rerouting is also difficult due to the narrow streets and the increased traffic on these streets due to the closure of Garnet. MTS projects the cost of the detours and the added buses to help maintain a reliable schedule would be approximately $1,000 per event.”
As taxpayers subsidize more than 50 percent of bus operations, we asked for reimbursement of these costs.”
Schupp added, however, that “the decision to approve or disapprove the permit for a street closure is entirely up to the City of San Diego.”
“We're not in opposition,” pointed out Scott Wahl, public information officer for the San Diego Police Department, about the prospective PB market move.
Wahl noted that SDPD “brought up concerns about there being some traffic impacts with more congestion” associated with the prospective market venue change.
“Additional staffing would be needed to reroute buses and traffic using event traffic controllers, if that's what the community wants to do,” Wahl said, noting those controllers are trained civilians not police personnel.
“Both SDPD and MTS have justifiable concerns about moving the Farmers Market to Garnet Avenue,” said PBPG board member Eve Anderson.“SDPD requiring weekly traffic control officers will certainly be needed to redirect unsuspecting drivers headed west down Garnet on Tuesday afternoons. Also, removing more than 80 parking places (almost double those unavailable on Bayard) during market hours will cause traffic congestion as market and local shoppers circle around looking for parking spaces.”
Wahl said the proposed Farmers Market move falls under the purview of the City's Special Events Department.
“We (police) make recommendations,” Wahl said, adding, “We don't take a side.”
Wahl noted police are “in the middle,” pointing out their role is enforce laws enacted by the city.
“They (city) ask our (police's) opinion on the traffic, and we told them we would need to provide additional traffic controllers to assure smooth traffic and safe pedestrian travel,” he said.
Wahl added traffic controllers are paid $22 an hour, and that eight of them would be needed for every market event held on Garnet.
“Most other farmers markets are on side streets, not main streets like Garnet Avenue,” Anderson said. North Park's is on North Park Way, not University. Little Italy's is not on India Street, but on a perpendicular street much like Bayard. Other markets are on school grounds or parking lots. The obvious disruption to a neighborhood's main street is not what those markets want – they want their shoppers to relax and enjoy the food and goodies.”