Please post my letter of response to St. Ignatius’ request for three full closure and seven half closures of the Outer Sunset Farmers Market & Mercantile.
Dear Supervisor Mar:
I would like to thank you for forwarding to me the concerns shared by St. Ignatius. In response to St. Ignatius’ request to entirely cancel 3 Sunday markets and reduce another 7 Sunday markets to 1 block, I must point out the catastrophic impact this request will have on the sustainability of the Outer Sunset Farmers Market & Mercantile, as well as the livelihood of the 70-90 farmers, small businesses and organizations in attendance on a given Sunday and the community who have come to depend on the market.
Our market depends primarily on vendor fees as income to cover the expenses which would continue to accrue whether there is a market or not. As we are a small organization running the market on a tight budget, foregoing or reducing by half the income from 10 market days would render the market financially unsustainable.
Additionally, we host 70-90 farmers, small businesses and organizations each Sunday who depend on our market for their livelihood. Our farmers require a regular outlet to sell their produce when it is harvested. Because produce is perishable, it cannot be left in a warehouse until the market becomes available to the farmers. Any unsold produce that over-ripens becomes unsellable and has to be thrown out at a loss to the farmers. If the market cannot offer a consistent schedule, our farmers will be forced to find a reliable market outside of our community. Reducing our space by half would prevent us from accommodating most of our small businesses and organizations because our farmers would have highest priority to the limited space as they are the core of the farmers market and also require the most consistent schedule. Most of the local small businesses and organizations of our market are able to work in the neighborhood in which they live thanks to our market and have very few alternatives to continue operating entirely within their own neighborhood.
The community relies on the market to be open on a regular schedule. Closing entirely or reducing access will frustrate and discourage shoppers who have come to plan their weekly shopping around our market’s schedule. Not only is this market an essential business to the community but it has also become a place for the community to connect with their neighbors and for our youth to play and engage outdoors. Eliminating market days or reducing its footprint in half will force us to greatly reduce if not eliminate the children’s activities zones, performing art spaces and seating areas in order to accommodate the reduction in our available space. As our reputation has grown, many people are now coming from other neighborhoods and even other cities to visit our market and have begun to trickle into our local merchant corridors. Canceling market days or reducing the footprint will discourage those who travel from afar to the Sunset District only to find the market closed, which will have a negative impact on the surrounding brick and mortar businesses if these shoppers stop coming because they can’t rely on the market being open.
We appreciate St. Ignatius’ openness to the launch of the farmers market and previous willingness to work together to configure the driveway access on market days in the interest of our shared community. In similar spirit, we have addressed previous concerns in the following ways:
• We relocated our South performance stage as far South on the block as is reasonable to accommodate the resident priests and the chapel.
• Likewise, we take extra time and care each week in planning the layout of our market to ensure that those vendors utilizing generators are located as far away as possible from the priest’s residence and chapel.
• We created a dedicated access lane for which we purchased special equipment, designed and purchased special signs and each week we provide paid staff dedicated to monitoring the lane for the duration of the market to ensure safe access by t. Ignatius priests, staff and guests.
• We commit staff time each week to set out cones and signs to delineate the access lane and to remind market attendees to keep the lane clear.
• Each time we have a community dance performance that we expect to create additional foot traffic near the access lane, we require the performing groups to supplement our team with volunteers to help ensure that St. Ignatius priests, staff and guests have access to their driveway.
• While our original understanding with St. Ignatius was that only the priests would need access through the market on Sundays, It soon became apparent that St. Ignatius visitors and staff other than the resident priests would need access to the driveway. To accommodate this unexpected additional traffic,our staff was instructed to help guide all St. Ignatius visitors, staff and priests through the access lane.
• When we were asked to reduce the market to half size to accommodate the St. Ignatius Robotics Competition but were given the wrong date, we accommodated many parents attending the competition who mistakenly drove into our market by assisting their safe exit while giving them space to drop off their children first. This large and well attended St. Ignatius event went on without the use of either blocks between Ortega and Quintara and still managed to be a very successful St. Ignatius school event.
Given the success of the Robotics Competition despite not having access to either 37th Avenue between Pacheco and Quintara nor 37th Avenue between Ortega and Pacheco to provide for their parking needs, I would like to suggest alternative solutions to closing the farmers market or reducing the market to half size.
I’d like to suggest the application for a permit to close 37th Avenue between Quintara and Rivera on the 10 dates requested by St Ignatius in order to secure exclusive access to their school on that block and to secure those parking spaces. If it would be helpful, we would like to offer to amend our Shared Spaces permit to include Quintara to Rivera for their 10 requested dates. Additionally, we would be happy to offer the use of our extra barricades and are willing to include barricading 37th avenue from Quintara to Rivera in our morning setup on those 10 requested dates. I would also like to suggest that St. Ignatius apply for a permit that prohibits parking along the perimeter curbs to their school along Rivera, 38th avenue and potentially even Quintara along the backside of West Sunset Playground on their 10 requested dates. We would support these efforts by prohibiting our vendors from parking in these areas and by helping to inform the community of the closure through our social media and website.
I would be happy to meet with St. Ignatius to discuss this potential solution and I look forward to collaborating with St. Ignatius in the interest of our shared community.
Director of Sunset Mercantile and the Outer Sunset Farmers Market & Mercantile
Founder and Director
Outer Sunset Farmers Market & Mercantile
Inner Sunset Sunday’s Flea Market
“Connecting Community, local commerce and causes in festive, family-friendly markets”
Categories: letter to the editor