Downtown Campbell Farmers' Market Returns to Original Layout

Beginning Dec. 1, the farmers' market will go back to having vendors along the sidewalks instead of down the middle of Campbell Avenue.


After meeting with the various stakeholders, the Santa Clara County Fire Department has decided that the current layout of the Downtown Campbell Farmers Market will have to revert to its previous setup by Dec. 1.

"We've determined that allowing obstructions to emergency fire apparatus access down the center of the street in any location in the downtown area is not in the best interest of the public fire and life safety," said Fire Chief Kenneth Kehmna in a letter addressed to Campbell City Manager Amy Brown. "Therefore, this is not a practice that we can continue to approve."

According to the letter, along with the farmers' market, all other downtown events will have to have their setup change to this along-the-sidewalk setup, "keeping the center of the roadway free of obstructions to emergency fire apparatus."

The downtown Campbell businesses first began their campaign to change the layout of the farmers' market in March, stating that it was a matter of equal visibility. The argument was that by having their backs to the businesses downtown, farmers' market visitors could not see the local businesses, therefore did not shop with them on Sundays.

The Campbell City Council formed a subcommittee, which included councilmen Rich Waterman and Jason Baker, to discuss with the Downtown Campbell Business Association next steps.

It was agreed that the farmers' market would temporarily change its layout to test the new setup and the market debuted its new look in July. A survey was passed out at the market for the first few weeks, to gauge visitors and the majority had positive feedback.

Here are a few of our previous stories leading up to this:

  • Campbell Farmers' Market: 14 Years Without a Permit
  • POLL: What Did You Think About the New Farmers' Market Layout?
  • Campbell Leadership Group to Recognize New Farmers' Market Layout
  • Downtown Campbell Farmers' Market Debuts New Look


To read all of our coverage on the farmers' market and its layout changes, click here.

Campbell Patch was forwarded a copy of the letter late Thursday Night. We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.

Judy Aagard November 16, 2012 at 04:01 PM
It's interesting that the festivals used the racetrack format for years with blessings from the fire department. What has changed?
Jessica November 16, 2012 at 04:30 PM
So glad it's changing back!!! Impossible to comparison shop in the new layout, you have to go up and down multiple times! Which meant I ended up skipping half of the market for lack of time. Thrilled its going back!!!
Rosetta Chow November 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Now we'll be reverting back to the congestion that was encountered walking down the middle of Farmer's market. I felt it was so hard to walk down the middle of Farmer's market without being blocked by people stopping and talking to others, strollers, and people walking their bikes down the middle. I also don't understaand why festival were able to have the racetrack format for so many years and all of a sudden the fire department decide to crack down on Farmers' market because of the recent change in July. Why now?
Bethany Hooks November 16, 2012 at 07:31 PM
it looks like they are making the festivals go back to this way too now...
Deb R November 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM
This decision is a huge disappointment, and for the change to go into effect on Dec. 1, three weeks before Christmas, adds insult to injury for the downtown retailers. As a DTC merchant for nearly twelve years, I participate in all community events on our avenue, and am all for the happiness of our local residents/customers. In fact, while closing the street every Sunday hurts my business, in general, I have continued to welcome the farmers market, just as long as they would allow equal exposure to the merchants, as to the market vendors. That said, I am fed up with the downtown merchants ending up at the bottom of the totem pole when these situations arise. I realize I am putting my neck out to say this, but, if I had to make an all-or-nothing choice, I would choose for the farmers market to move elsewhere, rather than block our businesses again. At the end of the day, Downtown Campbell merchants need to count, at the very least, equally as much as the residents, farmers market goers, etc. We certainly pay more for rent, by far, than the farmers market. to be continued...
Deb R November 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM
continued... In the five years that I have had farmers market booths blocking the front of my store, I lost business on Sundays, hands down. In the few months that we have enjoyed the new layout, my Sunday business has been up +/- 30%, and my walk-in traffic has been up 50+%. I believe this decision is a blow to most downtown retailers, and it is a crushing blow to my business. I have to believe that there are other options in terms of reconfiguring the market, that don't entail shutting business off to the open merchants. Again. There are parking lots, side streets, loop streets - I am sure a compromise can be worked out. If the only choice to to have farmers market booths backed up to the curb, blocking my store again, I may well be forced to close my business on Sundays because, with the previous layout, I often paid more to run the store than was returned by customer sales during farmers market. Yours truly unhappy, Deb
Deb R November 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Good question, Judy!
Deb R November 16, 2012 at 10:13 PM
All very good points, Rosetta. I am so disappointed :/
Steve Tickes November 17, 2012 at 12:39 AM
The reason for the change is that there using fatter fire trucks!!
CC_Campbell November 17, 2012 at 01:16 AM
1. I don't think they can get their trucks through the old layout any easier than the new layout, the street is blocked either way. 2. Why wouldn't they use the one-way streets, they are faster and more efficient than going on Campbell Ave if there were an emergency. 3. If there were an emergency between say 1st and Central, in either case, they will likely have to take out the pop-ups and folding tables to get there, otherwise, unless it's a fire, they will be quicker if they arrived on foot with their gear than driving through crowds and stands to get to a medical emergency. It kind of just sounds like abuse of power to me.
Deb R November 17, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Well said CC_Campbell.
Alan Zisser November 17, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I 'm just wondering whether the SC county fire dept. has a consistent policy on this for all the cities they serve, or if they just decide on case by case when someone bothers to bring it up. Why, after all these years of festivals, has the issue never come up, until now? I've been to many street festivals in downtowns from Redwood City to Palo alto to Sunnyvale to Mountain View to San Jose. They all seem to have the same "blocking the street" problem yet seem to do it anyway. Hate to think this kind of decision is made arbitrarily and in inconsistent way. I realize they may be different fire depts. but you would think the policies would be somewhat standardized. Too much to ask?
Deb R November 17, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Good point.
Deb R November 17, 2012 at 05:53 AM
I agree with the comments regarding ease of access - I find it hard to believe access to a fire or emergency would be made any easier by reversing the market layout. Furthermore, if the fire dept. feels that strongly that the market should not be in it's current formation, that should not mean it automatically goes back to the previous layout which the DTC merchants worked so hard to change BECAUSE IT HURTS BUSINESS. And, it certainly should not happen in December, with only 3 weeks of holiday shopping left! Since the old layout is not an option for local business and if the new layout is not acceptable to the fire department, it seems the next month should be utilized to discuss other options/compromises (among all parties) without assuming it is acceptable to block businesses during this very important season. The assumption that it is acceptable to block the businesses again, against the will of the rent-paying business owners, is unacceptable and, quite frankly, absurd.
Susan November 21, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I'm glad the old format is coming back. You can once again comparison shop. It creates a better sense of community. By walking down the center, you get to enjoy your neighbors and run into your friends. Much more community friends. It makes it more small town oriented!!
Bethany Curran November 21, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Have to say that I totally disagree with that. How does blocking out actual "small town" help the "sense of community"? So many people are brought in by FM, but at what cost to the everyday businesses of DTC? If you can't even see the shops and restaurants of DTC, how do you know they are there? Our downtown businesses are hurt by blocking them off, and that translates to not only lost income, but lost future business, word of mouth advertisement, and so much more. Also, as a Mom, I hate the old layout for the fact that it is nearly impossible to navigate with children. Strollers, wagons, or even just walking with little ones is so difficult when everyone is funneled down the middle and it is so crowded. The new layout allows for the sidewalks to be used for shopping both the FM and the shops of DTC. Much better!


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