June 18, 2024 Your Source for Brentwood News

Opinion: Is Brentwood in Danger of Losing Its Farmers Market?

By Carolyn Jordan, Chair, Brentwood Community Council

The Brentwood Farmers’ Market at Gretna Green and San Vicente has been with Brentwood for over 20 years now. Many of us no longer remember a time without the farmers market.  

But now, could Brentwood be in danger of losing the farmers market?

The answer is … maybe.  

Our market has gone to the dogs … quite literally … and that is a violation of State law that could ultimately lead to a revocation of the market’s operating permit.

The dogged facts

The level of complaints being received by the farmers market has skyrocketed in recent months over the presence of dogs at the farmers market.  If we don’t deal with this situation as a community, we could lose the market.

The number of people bringing their dogs (and, believe it or not, cats) has skyrocketed.  There have been dogs fighting and harming other dogs, dogs knocking down older patrons and children who are afraid of dogs being scared and traumatized. 

Then we have dogs leaving behind their calling cards, not being picked up by owners, only to end up on the shoes of many patrons who don’t appreciate the aroma of dog poop.

If non-service dogs (or other animals) are present at the Certified Farmers Market, the operators of the Certified Farmers Market could get fined, and ultimately,  lose their permit.

These are not decisions of the farmers market operators, these are state laws, enforced at the County level, and violations of these laws could mean monetary penalties and ultimately loss of license.

What has happened in response?  

The farmers market manager has tried to have conversations with pet owners, only to be ignored at best, but unfortunately, far more often the manager has been screamed and cursed at.  That’s not very neighborly.

The farmers market then invested in large banners spelling out the rule, explaining the where’s and why’s.  That too, somehow escapes detection of many dog owners.

The farmers market recently brought in security guards, one stationed at each of the north and south entrances to the market, who stop each and every patron with a dog (or cat, or other animal) and explain the rule and politely ask them to stay outside the farmers market.  

A few politely thank the security guard, and leave, or walk along areas outside of the farmers market while a human companion picks up the desired produce and other purchases.

However, many more argue with the security guard and state that ”it’s never been that way,” or complain that the farmers market has a bad policy and it’s okay elsewhere – or simply devolve into making statements that cannot be repeated here.

Still others state their animal is a “service animal.” Guide dogs, signal dogs, and service dogs are allowed.  It is also important for people to know that fraudulent service dog misrepresentation is a crime punishable under California Penal Code 365.7.

Where do we go from here?

If we as a community appreciate and want the Farmers Market on Sundays, we need to respect the law and the farmers market employees.  

We can leave our dogs at home while enjoying the farmers market, or we can go with a friend or loved one and have one person be responsible for the pet outside the farmers market while one runs the farmers market errands.  

We can also show respect to those who do require service animals by not pretending our precious Fido is also a service animal. 

Our request of the community:

Let’s respect our farmers market, its employees who are only trying to follow the rules, the law that is designed to keep food safe, and the other patrons who are not necessarily equipped to cope with dogs in the farmers market.  

Let’s leave our non-service pets at home. The future of our Brentwood Farmers Market depends on it.

in Opinion
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