Downtown Association and SLOFMA get one last chance

May 19, 2010

In what one local farmer called “an 11th hour intervention,” the Downtown Association and the San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Association (SLOFMA) will make one last effort to mediate their differences before possible intervention by the City Council.

“I think we have a personality and people issue here,” Councilman Andrew Carter said. “Can this marriage be saved? I don’t know.”

Arroyo Grande farmer Phillip Langston, who attended Tuesday afternoon’s special council meeting, said the session was very emotional, but productive. According to Langston, some last minute activity by mutual friends got the two parties to agree to continue discussions, which could begin as soon as this week.

They had better hurry. Council members agreed to allow the Downtown Association and the SLOFMA to continue negotiations without a mediator in hopes they can agree on a solution no later than May 28. At that point, if they haven’t reached an agreement, another special meeting is scheduled to consider whether or not the city should refuse to renew its contract with the Downtown Association.

“If we refuse to renew the agreement, it cancels everything,” Councilwomen  Jan Hall Marx said in response to comments that the council should vote to terminate the contact if the two parties do not reach an agreement by Friday. “It is playing a giant game of chicken and I am not ready to do that.”

SLOFMA is fighting to retain control of the Farmers’ Market portion of the popular Thursday night event. The Downtown Association unexpectedly seized control last January after more than 26 years of leadership by SLOFMA.

Since losing control, SLOFMA claims it has lost a third of its yearly operating income.

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As a former business owner in the downtown I agree that the Downtown Association should be disbanded! I owned Cisco’s for six years and feel that the DTA did nothing to promote the local business community. We had to pay for their salaries and travel expenses by being taxed a surcharge for doing business in the downtown core, It was ridiculous! The back room deals and tomfoolery seem to be the norm from both the city council and DTA should not be tolerated anymore.

I agree Roger, it might be time to do just that. I would like to see the DSA disbanded regardless of how this all works out. They are a drain on the merchants and nothing but a bunch of power grabbing bullies. The down town merchants should all vote in their own Association.

Maybe, just maybe it’s time for locals to boycott the downtown. The downtown association is doing all the bad things they said they wouldn’t.

Roger Freberg