Hilo Farmers Market ordered to take down tarps, tents
Market manager Keith De La Cruz says he was told if he did not comply with the order, he'd be fined $4,000 everyday the tarps remained up.
Hilo Farmers Market has been ordered by Hawaii County to take down all of its existing tarps and tents because of fire safety and zoning violations. According to Mayor Harry Kim some of the violations included items, like tarps and tents, infringing on public sidewalks and failing to maintain a required 10-foot distance from adjacent buildings.
"The rules are that you can't make it a permanent structure.. you can't just leave it up there and use it day in and day out," Mayor Kim said. "It's so unfair to other business people that comply with those rules."
Market manager Keith De La Cruz told Island News the tarps and tents were removed over the weekend. He added that if he didn't comply with the order, he'd be fined $4,000 everyday they remained up. De La Cruz said the mayor's order was surprising, since he had been in communication with the county since June of last year-- in hopes of resolving the notices of violations.
"33 years here.. 5 days to take down our tarps.. It just doesn't sit right," De La Cruz said. "We've been working in good faith with them trying to get our permits for tarps, as well as a permanent farmers market.. so we have been in direct communication with the county and it sounds like they just didn't have the patience."
Mayor Kim adds his decision was not made overnight. He said he held several meetings with De La Cruz and even to offered him assistance.
"But it just didn't work out for whatever reason." Mayor Kim added. "Now the vendors are affected the most-- and I understand they were not informed until this past Saturday.. that's almost unacceptable."
De La Cruz tells Island News he had tried to reach out to county officials all of last week to get the order averted, and when that didn't work he then notified the vendors. In addition, he posted a "vendor notice" on the Hilo Farmer's Market's website saying "It has been a long and complex process" and that "10' x 10' pop-up tents" will have to be used until new permits are approved.
"We've got over 200 plus vendors that are being affected.. some of them cannot afford to buy pop up tents. Its an extra burden and stress on them to put up these tents up," he said. "I'm hoping we can get through this episode as quickly as possible and as reasonable as possible."
In the meantime, De La Cruz adds that he will continue to push for a permanent roof for the market. Hilo Farmer's Market remains open for business daily.