Last month, during the monthly walk through the Antique Faire, which spills from Lincoln Street on Pacific to Lot 4 on Cedar, where farmers and their customers gather weekly, I spoke with a Hollister vendor whose wares were on the tables. spread out. in the shade under a liquidambar tree. He didn’t know about the city’s plan to build a library where he stood, with an eight-story parking and residential tower behind it, but when I briefly described it, he thought it was a bad idea.
Pointing to the plaza-like space around us, the vendors, the browsers, the friendly atmosphere, the mix of regulars and passers-by, he told me that this site was essential for “presentation,” he used merchandising language for the fair. He said the Santa Cruz show was one of the best and one of the oldest he’s been to. “It’s not Santa Cruz without the show.”
These are small entrepreneurs, often with one or two people, who travel between the regional cities that host their flea markets. Setting up the displays, unpacking and repackaging the goods is labor-intensive. Once you rent out the place, “You have to sell enough stuff to pay the rent and buy more stuff,” my friend from Hollister told me. Most of these people are older and these nomadic exchanges keep them alive both economically and socially.
A downtown institution since 1993, the Antique Faire started on Pacific Avenue and was moved to Lincoln Street by the Downtown Association a few months later; years later, it was briefly transplanted to Cedar, where it languished for lack of foot traffic. He moved back to Lincoln in 2003 and has been thriving there ever since. “If we move, it could kill the show,” organizer Bonnie Belcher told me. “We need to ensure visibility from the mall.” Because the city owns Belcher, he hasn’t taken a public position on Measure O — renovating the library, saving Lot 4 for a plaza, building housing elsewhere initiative — but he hopes it will stay there. there is
Farmers are in a similar situation: they are necessarily neutral because they are tenants of the city and do not want to antagonize their landlord. Because of that leverage, the city can ask farmers to come up with a plan to use Lot 7 wherever the powers that be want to relocate them, and then they can say, “Look! The farmers want to move to lot 7!” When in fact the farmers have not taken a stand on what kind of plot they want and are strictly neutral on Measure O.
By any objective measure – central location, afternoon sun, large shade trees, established tradition – Lot 4 is the best place for farmers, even if they can’t say so for political reasons. They just want a permanent location with infrastructure, so they take what the city has to offer. During the one-day informal survey I spoke with half a dozen individual suppliers, they were all over the Measure O map, from strong positive support to philosophical acceptance of change to indifference to ignorance. They are not necessarily or naturally political people.
The “objective standards” in this case may not be quantifiable, but must be based on values, which is a subjective, moral and philosophical judgment. How to assess the value of preserving 10 large living trees and open urban space with dozens of tons and countless diesel trucks of concrete to erect a gigantic structure that is out of scale with its surroundings and probably unaffordable for the city because the bigger the building, the more expensive it is to maintain.
“Deferred maintenance” was the justification for giving up the old library. If the city can’t afford that, how will it maintain the new, much higher maintenance?
If you want to keep the farmers and antique display in place, vote yes on Measure O.
The monthly Antique Faire takes place on Sunday, October 9th at Lincoln Street and Lot 4 in Santa Cruz.