Farmers Market Won’t Leave Legacy Park, Fined A Reported $6,540 By City After 8 Weeks of Violations

Written by on November 28, 2023

The Malibu Farmers Market has been fined a reported $6,540 by the City of Malibu, for operating in the wrong place for the past eight weeks.  And the LA County Board of Health has ordered it to cease operations at Legacy Park, and without an agreement to move back to the LA County parking lot, its future is in question.

The Cornucopia Foundation, which runs the market, has kept the stalls along Civic Center Way and spilling into the adjacent Legacy Park.  This violates the deed restrictions that the the city accepted when it bought several parcels of land for $25 million in 2002, from billionaire investor Jerry Perenchio, to build the park.

Perenchio’s son reportedly is firmly opposed to any commercial enterprise running in the park.

City officials said Monday that the Cornucopia Foundation’s director … Debra Bianco … has been uncooperative and has walked away from a county offer to allow the popular fair back onto its parking lot … across the street from legacy Park at the county library and college.

At last night’s city council meeting … backers of the Farmers Market demanded that it stay at Legacy Park …

Ingrid Jensen complained that the city had sided with the county … against them.


“It would be devastating, especially during our low season.

“Who is going to tell which farmer and small business that they have to go?”

But city officials say the county government has offered enough room for 76 vendors.

City manager Steve McClary says the Cornucopia Foundation .. which operates the market … is violating its zoning permits.


“The issue with the Farmers Market right now is that they now have been out there 8 times after the expiration of the TUP … and that is why they have racked up that level of fines.”

McClary did not confirm the exact total.  A Second speaker put the amount at $6,450.

City council member Doug Stewart says he understands that the country has offered enough space for 76 vendors in the parking lot.

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“Now when I talked to Debra last night, I said ‘Debra, how many spaces you getting?’

“And I got back ‘I don’t know.’

“‘How many spaces do you have right now?”

“ ‘I don’t know.’

“ ‘How many spaces do you think you need?

“ ‘I don’t know.’

“I got nothing but ‘I don’t know.’

“And she’s trying to negotiate with the county.

“And she’s also trying to tell us that we need to get her Farmers market at Legacy Park and not shut them down.

“I understand they have a deal on the table to be at the county lot.

“Now, it may not be the deal that they want.  Maybe it’s not the deal they were promised.

“But a deal is a deal as far as where they want to locate.”

And that indicates a communications problem …

City manager Steve McLary said much the same thing last night.

“I believe we have been very responsive to all the emails and communications that we have received from Cornucopia.

“I just have to say I think that we have not been getting much communication coming back from the organizers.

“We’ve been responding and we’ve just not been hearing back.”

For eight weekends now … the Farmers Market has been set up in the street … spilling into the park … with no Coastal Development Permit from the city.

And that’s a problem.

As for Debra Bianco … she made a long and impassioned … if somewhat rambling … speech.

She accused the city manager of not reading her emails.

“I’m here tonight to represent not just the Farmers Marketn ot just the vendors that have been in the market for there last 15 years that are just trying …. because we’ve put a lot of mom and pops put of business.

“What just happened at the Lumberyard? Take that into consideration when you take a vote.”

“Not long ago I called the city, I emailed the city: ‘please keep us in the loop because the County lied to us over and over again. Keep us in the loop.’

“No, that didn’t happen.”

“Two week later we get slammed with what?  A lot of money.”

Bianco got even angrier … she was furious that the county Health Department was told not to issue or renew any permits for the market or its exhibitors.

“Then …. who gave you the idea in your head to call up the Board of Health?  Good God.

“Yet you keep Nobu in business ?  And I think they should be in business.

“Ohhhh … are you proud of yourself?  You know who I am speaking to up there.

“…. Do you even read the emails that come in?  I don’t think so.

“You know what Steve, city manager?  I’m speaking to you, too, right to you. because your are the one who doesn’t read.

“I honestly think that

“I write and I write and I write you and I don’t get anything back.  And all of a sudden I get slammed for 6,000 something, and I get slammed – oooooh pby the board of Health..

“And I pleas with them, because you represent them.”

“Am I passionate? You bet. I care for our people You se I make no money out of this market,”

“Think about that when you make your vote.”

In her four minute statement …  Bianco did not address the fundamental issue … this city risks losing ownership of Legacy Park .. a 40 million dollar plus investment … if it allows commercial operators in Legacy Park.

The city has now issued a reported 65 hundred 40 dollars in zoning fines.

And as much as people like having the market spilling over into the park … the bottom line is that the city risks losing ownership of that chunk of land if it violates a specific deed restriction that runs with the land.

Councilman Doug Stewart:

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“We have a deed restriction, and we also have a zoning restriction with it being at Legacy Park. So let’s not have a playing with fire with a deed restriction … but Legacy Park is not available right now.”

And as much as people like having the market spilling over into the park … the bottom line is that the city risks losing ownership of that chunk of land if it violates a specific deed restriction that runs with the land.

The matter will come back to the city council … maybe in two weeks.

One recommendation ,… to close Civic Center Way and have the Farmers Market in the street … will be investigated by city staff.

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