County Orders Hilo Farmers Market to Take Down Tents
The County of Hawai‘i has ordered Hilo Farmers Market to remove the tarps and the tents that have been its primary structures for over 33 years or face $4,000 in fines for each day they remain in place.
According to Keith De La Cruz, owner and manager of the market, Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim ordered the removal. When De La Cruz was asked why the order was given, he said, “That is a good question.”
When asked if the tents would be replaced or what would happen with the vendors, De La Cruz stated:
“We have been processing with the county for the last seven months for notices and violations. Since June of 2017, we have had our permits and are working with them [the county] in good faith to try and resolve the notices and violations… and to submit drawings for a new farmers market roof. So just in the last several days, we have received a county order to take down the tarps or get fined each day $4,000 per day.”
The market plans to remain open; however, vendors will need to provide their own pop-up tents.
The market owner would still like to process its permits for tenants and a permanent roof. Those application processes are ongoing.
De La Cruz remains hopeful the county will expedite the permitting process so that there is not a long-term effect on the market “being in a new mode.”
De La Cruz has been trying to secure financing for a permanent roof; however, the economy has made it very difficult and the order to take down the tents does not include any assistance in securing funding.
De La Cruz doesn’t know if any notices have been given to any other farmers markets on the island.