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Monterey County announces temporary closure of Red Barn Flea Market

Future of Monterey County landmark in limbo

AROMAS, Calif. - UPDATE: 4/11/2018 2:52 p.m. Starting April 15, the Red Barn Flea Market will be closed pending a hearing on Monterey County's application for a neutral third party to operate the flea market and bring it back up to compliance with state law and county code. 

A hearing is scheduled for April 27, in Monterey County Superior Court. 

Monterey County Sheriff's and CHP will work together to make sure the flea market is closed. 

"The County has made every effort to avoid the closure of the flea market and continues to do so by actively pursing measures in court to allow for the reopening the operation as soon as possible," said Monterey County officials. 

The closure is in place because the flea market did not comply with county codes and lacked proper toilet and hand washing facilities necessary to accommodate the number of food and alcohol vendors. 

Monterey County officials said, "The County’s goal is for the Red Barn to operate under safe health conditions, which the vendors and community deserve.  Unfortunately, the blatant disregard for public health and safety demonstrated by the current operator has compelled the County of Monterey to enforce the injunction issued by the Monterey County Superior Court in Case No. M104908, and close operation of the flea market at the Red Barn, located at 1000 US-101, Aromas, CA 95004."

 

UPDATE: 4/4/2018 3:36 p.m. The Big Red Barn flea market will remain open for the next three weeks. 

A tentative agreement was made in court between the owner, Ken McPhail and Manny Delgadillo to reopen the flea market this Sunday, April 8 until the next hearing, April 26. 

UPDATE 4/2/2018 6:10 p.m.: A Monterey County mainstay could be disappearing. The flea market at the Big Red Barn along Highway 101 in Aromas has closed up shop. 

More than 300 vendors sell their goods at the flea market every Sunday. Some of them say they make most of their income here. Tony Tiscareno sells caps and says 80% of his income comes from this location.      

"I was stunned,” said Tiscareno. “I just didn't know what to do, thinking I still have to provide for my family and thinking I got a girl in college and this is my biggest income right here."

Vendors and the flea market manager are fighting to keep the 49 year old landmark open. They say their problems began with the death of its main owner Frances Ellingwood. 

Vendors said Ellingwood’s boyfriend and co-owner of the property, Ken McPhail, decided to close the market for good because he didn’t want to comply with certain county restrictions.

Monterey County raised health and safety concerns eight years ago, and told organizers the market could continue to operate as long as they worked towards compliance. That meant putting in real bathrooms, not porta potties. 

“The county was basically working with us and allowing us to continue to stay open with the understanding that we were going to build these restrooms,” said Manny Delgadillo, manager of the flea market. “It's not as easy as just building a building because there's no septic service so we have to build a wastewater treatment facility."

McPhail told us it could cost up to a million dollars and that it was ridiculous to spend that kind of money for a once-a-week operation. We asked him what his response would be if Supervisor John Phillips were to say they could continue to operate while complying with the restrictions.

"If he wants to keep this place open, we'll open it tomorrow,” McPhail said. “Just do away with all your requirements. We're not stupid out here, we're not going to give you our property. You can't even manage the county for Christ's sake."

McPhail also brought up concerns over Ellingwood’s will and whether she intended for the flea market to continue after her death. What happens until then is headed to court on Wednesday. 

"I'm asking the court to give me permission to essentially open the Red Barn back up until the will is read, until the probate matters have come to a conclusion, which could take six months to a year,” Delgadillo said. “All the while the Red Barn would be open. I've been assured by the county there's been no restrictions from the county to open the business up right now."
But there are already “For Rent” signs up. 

"The property is going to be here no matter what,” McPhail said. “I've got to do something with it. So I'm going to try and rent it out again. It may end up being for storage or something that somebody wants to pay money for."

Meantime vendors say they are just looking to sell their goods. 

"All of us vendors are the ones being affected and we would love to come back and be selling here,” Tiscareno said. “No one wants any problems with anybody, we just want us to continue doing business just like everybody else."
 

ORIGINAL POST: The future of a Monterey County landmark is in limbo. 

The Big Red Barn flea market has been a mainstay for nearly 50 years but it's closing for now after one of the owners of the property, Frances Ellingwood, recently passed away.

Now the issue at hand is what will  happen to the property as well as the weekly flea market. 

It's an issue that is headed to court later this week. 

Vendors told KION that Ellingwood's boyfriend, Ken McPhail, decided to close the market for good because he didn't want to comply with county restrictions. The county had raised health and safety concerns eight years ago and told organizers the market could continue to operate as long as organizers worked towards compliance by putting in real bathrooms instead of porta-potties. 

McPhail said the new bathrooms could cost up to a million dollars. 

"If he wants to keep this place open, we'll open it tomorrow. Just do away with all your requirements. We're not stupid out here, we're not going to give you our property. You can't even manage the county for christ's sake," said McPhail. 

The manager of the flea market, Manuel Delgadillo said, "The county was basically working with us and allowing us to continue to stay open with the understanding that we were going to build these restrooms."

There's an issue over Ellingwood's will and if she stated the flea market would continue to run after her death. That will be discussed in Monterey County court on Wednesday. 

Hundreds of vendors work at the Red Barn flea market and say it's their sole source of income. 

KION's Mariana Hicks has the full story on News Channel 5,46 at 5 and 6 p.m. 


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