A packed house attended the Ceres Planning Commission on Monday in support of the El Rematito Flea Market being allowed to continue operations despite problems that need to be worked out with the city.
The commission voted 4-0 to extend an amendment to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for 12 months to allow the 29-acre flea market to operate at 3025 and 3113 Crows Landing Road.
In September 2020, the Planning Commission approved an amendment to the CUP to allow El Rematito Flea Market to operate for two years at which time the city would monitor and review the project. The flea market has been operating under a CUP approved in 2015 but those operations expanded in 2020 to allow the market to operate Thursdays through Sundays as well as operate a food vendor truck park Mondays through Thursdays.
In August the flea market owners requested approval of a 12-month extension of the existing CUP entitlement to allow El Rematito Flea Market to continue operating. City staff members preferred a six-month extension while issues are worked out. The commission opted for a year extension.
City staff members said owners Candida and Pedro Marquez have acted on complaints regarding dust generated by vehicles parking on a dirt lot west of the flea market parking lot. While the dirt lot is owned by the same owner, it isn’t part of the CUP, and therefore, market attendees and vendors are not allowed to park at the dirt lot. El Rematito has blocked off the dirt lot to take care of the dust problem.
The city is also concerned about the venue’s popularity causing traffic to back up on Crows Landing Road past Whitmore Avenue to the north which is “causing delays and unsafe driving conditions.” A traffic management plan is being requested by the city.
“It is staff’s opinion that the owner is working with the city in good faith to resolve all matters related to code enforcement and any nuisances that have been reported,” a city staff report to the commission noted. “There are also engineering- and infrastructure-related issues that the city needs time to review and resolve with the owner.”
Christopher Hoem, the city’s director of Community Development, said it’s possible that improvements may be made to the dirt lot so it may be used for parking.
“Right now it’s not permitted but it’s something that we want to work in good faith to come up with a solution if we can,” Hoem told the commission.
Attorney Nelson Gomez represented the flea market and said issues continue to be worked out to the satisfaction of the city and operators. He asked for a longer extension as the issues are settled “at once so we don’t come back piecemeal to you.”
Gomez told the commission that the city needs to reimburse his client for part of the cost of installing a traffic signal on Crows Landing Road as well as water lines.
“My client has invested in excess of $3 million since 2015 in order to upgrade that particular parcel and that particular business and is glad to have done so because I believe that we have the nicest and best equipped flea market in California,” Gomez told the commission.
Commissioner Daniel Martinez motioned for a 12-month extension of the CUP amendment. It was supported by him, Gary Del Nero, Bob Kachel and Dave Johnson. Laurie Smith was absent.
Gomez said that the owners of the flea market have “many other issues that have been lingering for a period of seven years and haven’t been resolved.”
The flea market operates Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is allowed to have up to 548 vendor spaces (155 enclosed spaces and 393 open air spaces).