The Woodside Town Council found a way last night (Tuesday, Sept. 11) to allow a popular farmers' market to return to Skylonda in a parking lot near the corner of Skyline Boulevard and Highway 84, but residents will have to continue driving down the hill for their fresh fruits and vegetables for another month.
The parking lot did host a market on Aug. 1, and nearby artisans and farmers sold out their seven or eight tables of fresh produce, homemade cheese, sunflowers and other goods.
Residents were looking forward to another one a week later, and another, and another, but town staff discovered that regulations did not allow such markets. The complication resides in the use permit for the two businesses that use the parking lot: the Mountain Terrace, where people celebrate events such as weddings, and Penelope's Den, a craft store. The permit forbids outdoor sales.
Town staff found a category of food store operations in the municipal code that could allow the markets to continue, and the council was ready to act last night, but Town Manager Kevin Bryant reminded the council that it could not simply ignore the stipulation about outdoor sales.
Everyone must therefore wait until the Planning Commission meets and considers an amendment to the use permit, which the property owner has applied for. Rules governing changes to agendas put any commission action off until its meeting on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3, which puts off another farmers market to the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The council addressed a packed meeting at Independence Hall. Virginia Dare, who lives on Old La Honda Road, addressed the council with feeling. Ms. Dare was one of many residents who volunteered over more than a year to update the town's general plan. At one meeting, they discussed farmers' markets in the context of "the way we want to live now and the way we want to live in the future."
"There is a community up there that needs great food. There is a large community on the other side of the mountain that makes great food. They do great things. We would like to buy their great things."
"It doesn't just have to be up there," Ms. Dare added. "Couldn't we have one down here?"