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Organic Peaches Battle for Ferry Plaza Real Estate

From the CUESA newsletter, on dislocation: "The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market has many stakeholders. The farmers and other sellers, of course, are the foundation of the market and depend upon it for part of their income; the shoppers come for good food, community, and to attend our educational programs; and myriad businesses and governmental agencies are affected in various ways by the market’s operation. Of late, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has taken an interest in the market, too--but not just for the delicious regional produce, or even the Blue Bottle Coffee. An important public safety project must take place in space now occupied by a portion of our Saturday market. Perhaps you heard the buzz in the news this week about how BART’s seismic retrofit project could affect the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Here we hope to address possible questions and concerns."

(More on the Ferry Plaza Market after the jump)

Happier brekkie-related developments: Eatwell Farms now sells Three Wise Hens organic Araucana eggs at their stand on Saturdays, Fatted Calf now has bacon in limited quantities in addition to their sublime breakfast sausages.

· CUESA
· Eatwell Farms
· Fatted Calf
· Carrots or Sticks [Curbed]

The Project
After the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, it was clear that Bay Area transportation infrastructure needed seismic retrofitting. To this end, BART plans to stabilize the transbay tube beneath the San Francisco Bay. Since the tube runs directly under the Ferry Building, BART must use the plaza behind the building for tunnel access. There is no getting around it: BART’s operations for this essential project will displace at least a portion of our Saturday farmers market. Sometime during the next eighteen months, the sellers that currently set up in the back plaza on Saturdays will have to set up elsewhere. If this cannot be done in a way that is contiguous with the otherwise unaffected portion of the market, it is possible that the entire market will have to be shifted. BART’s project is expected to take two years to complete.

The Process
BART was required to do a comprehensive assessment of the environmental, cultural, and social impacts of the retrofit project. For each impact that was recognized, they must provide functionally equivalent mitigation measures. Presently, BART is in the process of determining what specific mitigation measures to propose for CUESA’s operations. Our input has been solicited at many points, and we have provided BART with a list of operational requirements that must be considered for alternatives to be truly equivalent. BART has been receptive and inclusive, and we have faith that their competent designers will emerge with a solution that is elegant and addresses our needs.

Our Requests
It should go without saying that we want to stay at or near the Ferry Building. We are, after all, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and we think it is possible to find an alternative allows us to remain here. Our operations are complex, though, so our requirements are many. Here is the list we presented to BART:

Good market layout: The configuration of the market needs to enhance the shopping experience.

Customer parking: Access to convenient and affordable parking for customers must be addressed.

Customer loading zone: Access to convenient load-out space by customers for pre-established Chef Pass and Veggie Valet services is a necessity.

Convenient truck access: For the sellers who have stalls located in areas that do not accommodate their trucks, truck parking must remain convenient for load in and load out throughout the day.

Contiguous space: 62,370 square feet are required to accommodate market stalls, space for walkways between stalls, seller vehicles, demonstration kitchens and teaching facilities, and operations and education equipment and supplies.

Educational facilities: CUESA’s nonprofit status is dependent on actively supporting our educational mission, which is dependent upon the types of facilities found at the Ferry Building (demonstration kitchens, teaching facilities, meeting areas, the A-Z murals, information booth, etc.)

Adherence to Health Department regulations: Direct access to water, electricity, trash disposal, public toilets, set-backs from traffic and locations approved for basic hygiene are critical.

One relocation only: One market move for construction purposes is tolerable; to be reconfigured multiple times during construction activities would be detrimental to sellers.

For the next six weeks, BART’s designers will be pondering ways to accommodate this list, and will present us with a workable alternative. A plan should be agreed upon soon thereafter. CUESA will give customers ample notice and will do everything possible to make the transition smooth.

If you have questions, contact Dave Stockdale, CUESA Executive Director --dave@cuesa.org.