Tahoe City farmers market could close | SierraSun.com

Tahoe City farmers market could close

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunSherri Moore of Tahoe City buys berries at Rodriguez Ranch at the Tahoe City Farmers Market on Thursday.

Whether it’s for the fresh fish, organic berries or the community feel, shoppers have made the Foothill Farmers’ Market a Commons Beach favorite.

But required permits and the associated costs are putting the 3-year-old weekly market at risk.

“It’s a question of getting the permitting, or we don’t get to have the market,” said Executive Director Kelly Atchley of the Tahoe City Downtown Association.

“What we’re trying to figure out now is how to raise funds,” she said.

Tahoe City used to have a farmers market located near the Dollar Point 7-Eleven, but when development forced it elsewhere, Commons Beach was the most viable option.

After its first season in 2005, Placer County received complaints that the market caused traffic and parking problems in Tahoe City’s west end. The market’s sponsors then needed both county and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency permits to continue operations.

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But the temporary permits have expired. A traffic study is now necessary in order to obtain a permanent permit.

Rather than spending upward of $5,000 for the traffic study alone, the Foothills Farmers’ Market Association would like to use a previous 2005 traffic study to obtain the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency permanent permit.

“The farmers’ market feels it has been unjustly singled out as the cause of parking and traffic [issues],” said Carol Arnold, the association’s general manager.

Arnold said she believes Commons Beach experiences similar problems every other busy summer day.

Fortunately for the market’s sake, the association has set aside money to address the issues, collecting $2 a time from the vendors over the last two years, Arnold said.

But they will still need help from the community.

“We’re trying to figure out how to do it, if we want to do it. To the farmers, it’s their marquee event ” the farmers love Tahoe City, they love the venue. But we’ve got to get a permanent permit,” said Dave Wilderotter, the president of the Tahoe City Downtown Association board of directors.

Multiple local agencies have teamed up to support the farmers’ markets, but because of the number of hoops applicants must jump through, it is no one agency’s responsibility. Representatives from the downtown association, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, Tahoe City Public Utility District and the Foothill Farmers’ Market met Tuesday morning to discuss the best direction to head.

Many organizations already do their part to champion the community event. The resort association provides funding to extend hours of the free summer trolley. They also pay for a California Highway Patrol officer to help direct traffic near Commons Beach on Thursdays.

But nonprofit organizations like the downtown association can’t afford to help pay for the traffic study.

Supporters are hoping the community will pull together and help area farmers stay in Tahoe City.

“[The farmers market] connects the community with the farmers, with fresh food, organic opportunities ” the kinds of things that are hard to come by year-round,” Atchley said. “I’m reasonably certain we can raise some funds with someone down there at a table with a mailbox [for donations].”

There also may be fundraising opportunities with other local groups, supporters say.

“We at the downtown association are convinced the community wants it,” Wilderotter said. “The downtown association would like to see it continue.”