Kris Gean shows off the products he sells at the Downtown Farmers' Market. (Photo by Paul Alvarez Jr.)
Kris Gean shows off the products he sells at the Downtown Farmers’ Market. (Photo by Paul Alvarez Jr.)

THIRD STREET PROMENADE — Prepared food vendors may have to toe a finer line if new rules at the Farmers’ Market come into effect that would require them to pay for their space on days they don’t make it to the market.

Under the proposed rule, vendors could miss the market three times with no penalty. After that, they would have to pay for the space whether or not they show up, said Laura Avery, Farmers’ Market supervisor.

Those spaces can cost between $100 and $150 for a Santa Monica-based business, depending on the size of the stall. If the vendor does not hail from Santa Monica, that increases by $50.

“It has to do with maintaining consistency in the market,” Avery said.

In the past, there were no defined rules about how many times a prepared food vendor could skip the market, although the regulations posted on the Farmers’ Market website require that vendors contact management within 48 hours after a skipped market day.

Repeated absences can result in suspension, according to the rules.

Some market-goers raised concerns about a new bread purveyor who had missed several markets as the company worked to establish a brick-and-mortar facility.

Many of those were loyal to Bezian Bakery, a bread company that had been at the market for almost 20 years before being beaten out for its spot by Red Bread, a Venice-based firm.

Geoff Shackelford, a Bezian proponent, hailed the new rules as “great news” for the market — why lose both a beloved stall and city revenues at the same time, he reasoned — although he lamented the loss of his favorite bread vendor.

“But it’s great that someone in the city has finally taken notice of what continues to be a bizarre situation and one that customers who only care about getting great food at the market cannot understand,” Shackelford said.

The proposal is one of four concerning the Farmers’ Market that will go before the Downtown Santa Monica Inc. board on Thursday, alongside others that would allow for acoustic music at the Pico Farmers’ Market on a monthly basis and another to line up local contracts with county health permits.

Musicians are allowed to set up shop at the market, but they want to limit unscheduled performances to once a month “should the performer demand ever be there,” Avery said.

That last may seem a small detail, but it has real implications for prepared food vendors who have contracts that run from October to September, which is out of line with permits they have to get from the Health Department.

The changes would save money for those vendors who don’t align with the Health Department dates, according to the report.

Farmers’ Market officials are expected to bring the proposed rules to the City Council on June 11.

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