City Seeks to Relocate North Berkeley Farmers’ Market

20140122northberkfmThe City of Berkeley, driven by safety concerns, is proposing that the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market relocate, in a very short timeframe. The Ecology Center is very concerned that the City’s proposal would jeopardize the viability, safety, and feel of a celebrated community resource.

The City’s proposal reconfigures the farmers’ market into a single-file, narrow strip of vendors along the frontage road that borders CVS, its parking lot, and the businesses south of CVS. Our primary concerns are:

  • The farmers’ market would lose the grassy median that forms the social centerpiece of the market. The green, community gathering space – where shoppers rest, sit and talk, or allow their children to play while they shop – would be eliminated.
  • The proposed configuration increases safety risks to workers and vendors for trip-and-fall and other potential hazards. We anticipate that people would still be drawn to the grassy median, but they would cross open traffic lanes to access it.
  • The City’s proposal puts the future of the market in doubt. The proposal includes a 6-month trial period in the new location. When asked what happens after 6 months if the location proves unworkable, the City has no answer. This leaves the market and its vendors and shoppers with significant insecurity about the future.

The City’s proposal was crafted without important community and operational input. We feel that the decision-making process has been rushed and doesn’t take into account the Ecology Center’s expertise or the priorities of the farmers, neighbors, and market shoppers who have vested interests in the current configuration.

Safety is paramount to the Ecology Center. We have consistently demonstrated our desire to work with the City to improve pedestrian safety at all of our markets. We have proposed a variety of solutions to safety concerns at the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market, solutions that would protect pedestrians from the unlikely scenario of a rogue driver entering the market from Shattuck. Our solutions reflect best practices derived from research and the expertise of the farmers’ market industry.

We are asking City Council to create a more open, inclusive process that allows for stakeholder input before a decision is enacted. We are asking our supporters to: a) Contact their City Council person to tell them how much they value the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market, and b) Sign the petition circulating at the farmers’ market, or online at ecologycenter.org/FarmersMarketPetition, which asks the City to work with the Ecology Center to devise viable, long-term safety strategies for the current market configuration.


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9 thoughts on “City Seeks to Relocate North Berkeley Farmers’ Market

  1. Oh no! The end of Shattuck is the most wonderful place for a market, and so enjoyed by the community as a no-vehicle traffic space and time for shopping and socializing. There is no way that the market would feel safe and friendly if Shattuck Avenue was opened to traffic during the market, and no way there would be room for the vendors and the customers. Thank you to the City of Berkeley for many happy and safe years for this market, and please reconsider to allow for many more!

  2. Oh NO! I love this market! It has taken awhile to get established and I hate to see its longevity jeopardized! It’s already a small market. The proposed changes would make it impossible to accommodate all of the existing vendors and shoppers! This is a community resource/gathering space. Please reconsider reconfiguring this market to enable it to remain a community resource for many more years!!

  3. This blog post doesn’t really say anything about the cities concerns. Where is a link the actual proposal? What data do they have they makes them concerned? I have been going to this market for years, rain or shine, and it doesn’t seem anymore dangerous than crossing a street elsewhere in Berkeley.

    • James,
      The City has communicated with us (via email) that safety is the concern driving this, one specific concern being the damage that a rogue driver could cause if they drove into the market. We believe that the issue can be addressed without a disruptive relocation. So far, the City has not shared with us any data to back their arguments. We’d like there to be a public process for market shoppers, vendors, and other community members to have more input on their proposal, which hasn’t been made available to the public. Thanks for being part of the market!

  4. I do most of my weekly shopping at this market, frequently making 2-3 trips to my car with all of the produce that I’ve purchased. Taking away the convenience of the parking area will certainly affect people’s shopping habits in a negative way. Moving the market into the parking area makes no sense to me.

  5. I noticed that today a huge truck was parked across the dangerous area — which seemed to me to be sufficient visual and physical deterrent to a rogue motorist. Would this not be enough for the City of Berkeley?

    If the market is to be relocated, the City MUST change its garbage collection date from Thursdays in this area, as the businesses’ bins are all left by the collectors where they block pedestrian access to the walking strip between Shattuck and the proposed market location. It’s bad enough now and it would be even more dangerous when more crowded with pedestrians. This whole scheme does not sound very well thought-out to me.

    If the market has to move, why not just take over the CVS parking lot for the afternoon? Many Boston suburbs run their outdoor markets this way.

    I’m sorry about the loss of a community hang-out area. Is the City bothered about the congregating people?

    I would like to see the City’s official position on this before making an official protest statement.

  6. As a resident of a nearby neighborhood, I am strongly against the city’s ham-handed actions here. We frequent the current market regularly, and our whole family loves it. It would change the character of the market to move it, and heavily impact what is starting to become a cherished institution, without any visible benefit. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE SUCH AN ILL CONSIDERED MOVE!

  7. There is no reason to “reconfigure” the North Berkeley Farmer’s Market. It works well and has for many years. The grassy median is central to families bringing their children so they can sit and snack, hang out next to musicians and yet be within eye-ear shot of their parents. When I saw the Ecology Center truck parked at a angle coming up Shattuck I thought to myself “Oh, what a great way to advertise that today is “Farmer’s Market Day”. I wasn’t thinking about rogue drivers, per se..just that it was a good boundary marker and a advertisement for the Ecology Center sponsoring the market. The market generates customers for all the local businesses. I usually stop in at CVS and Saul’s while I’m there. Don’t “fix” what isn’t broken.

  8. We have been selling at this beautiful location since the very first day, at the crosswalk entrance, and have never felt the least bit unsafe due to oncoming traffic. However, if the City’s concern is oncoming traffic, we were thinking about these possible safety improvements/suggestions:……… Make our traffic barriers more visual…….Add some height or color so they could be seen from a longer distance than they are now, or……… look into purchasing better or bigger traffic blockades.
    The proposed location would create a lot of dangers to the customers as a lot more customers would be using the crosswalks that would no longer be protected by the current market blockades, there would be a lot of tripping hazards. The new site endangers the market , rolling traffic up against shoppers and farm booths .

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