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They Said It Couldn’t Be Done But Olvera Street Merchants Did It — They Fought City Hall and Won

On Friday, the cold face and iron fist of authority came before the City Council to declare time had run out, there would be no more talk, the merchants of Olvera Street would sign on the dotted line and pay up — or get out.

On Monday, the clock was still running, there was plenty of talk with representatives of the merchants, the mayor, the Council and even the hard-asses from the City Attorney’s Office and the El Pueblo staff.
By Tuesday’s Council meeting, it was a lovefest with the three most objectionable of the seven last-minute issues brought up by El Pueblo management and city legal staff deleted.
Merchants leader Vivian Bonzo and others praised the Council for their new-found understanding about storage space rates, about needing approval to introduce new items for sale and most of all, for their dropping the effort to evict six merchants on onerous demands for paperwork that meets city standards even when the deficiencies were the city’s fault.
There’s a lesson here: You can fight City Hall and you can win.
Get organized, get a lawyer and never let up the pressure.
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15 Responses to They Said It Couldn’t Be Done But Olvera Street Merchants Did It — They Fought City Hall and Won

  1. mariscal says:

    You’re right! Three of the four major issues were resolved, but one HUGE one still remains…and that is discrepancy over the rate of my family’s business.
    Despite evidence presented to El Pueblo’s General Manager, City Council and the City Attorney, our family will have one of the highest increases on Olvera Street! Our rent will increase by over 300%. I don’t know about the other working folks in the world, but if your rent went up 300% overnight, I don’t think you’d be able to survive.
    We aren’t asking for special treatment, consideration or any of the bull that was crammed down our throats…instead we were asking for fair treatment within an already unfair situation.
    I appreciate your efforts to voice this important issue & I am thankful for the many factors that were addressed, but I hope that there’s someone out there willing to look at evidence (much provided by City Departments themselves), and give us the fair shake we deserve.
    Today’s decision has a double-edged sword…let’s hope the merchants don’t continue to get pricked by both ends.

  2. Jim says:

    Mariscal, Start with attorney Noel Weiss. Ron can put you in touch. Ron’s email is on the right-hand side of this web page under the Cartoon Caricature of him.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “and even the hard-asses from the City Attorney’s Office—”. Classic!

  4. Walter Moore says:

    I don’t think this shows you can fight City Hall and win. I think this shows City Hall is always happy to sell out taxpayers for special interests.
    If City Hall is going to be in the business of leasing out OUR property, it should lease that property at market rates. Period.
    By leasing property at below-market terms — e.g., the many buildings “leased” to “non-profits” for $1 per year — City Hall is essentially redistributing money from taxpayers to politically connected “lessees.”
    This isn’t a triumph of the people. This is business as usual at City Hall. Sometimes the special treatment goes to AEG. Other times it goes to other private companies.

  5. Walter Moore says:

    P.S.
    My solution? Sell the building to the highest bidder. There is no legitimate reason for local government to be in the business of running a shopping mall.
    As for the building, impose a covenant requiring that it be preserved as an historic building, like the buildings in the Historic Preservation Overlay Zones around tone.

  6. Well, maybe we can still beat City Hall, by voting to oppose DWP rate-hikes. I spoke in opposition to rate hikes, at the DWP sales-pitch power point presentation.
    For example, we have plenty of electricity, thanks to the DOE Energy Code mandated way back in 1978, that required all manufacture’s to reduce the amount of amps/current used in any device using electricity. And, over the years, they’ve been reducing that energy use dramatically. That’s why there was no need to build additional power plants. So, what’s the rush?
    I’ve been told that my remarks were aired on Spanish TV news.
    So, any needed rate-hikes can first, be taken out of the billion dollar CRA account, and the mayor’s “anti-gang” program.
    Hey, let’s draft Walter Moore as our DWP Rate-Payer Advocate at $500K a year. He would be sooo worth it !!

  7. Anonymous says:

    @David Barron. So I guess you’re assuming the population in LA has stayed the same since 1978, and that we use the same appliances we did in 1978. And I guess you’re also assuming utilities are totally free to ignore State mandates like AB32.
    Between that and thinking you can rob the General Fund to pay for ratepayer projects, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  8. Anonymous says:

    DWP has excessive electric capacity (for now). The only problem is that about 40% of the power comes from Intermountain Power, a coal fired plant in Utah.
    LA has to get out of that plant (either 2020 or 2027, depending on decisions made by the Mayor and Council) and put in place a renewable portfolio.
    The problem with the renewable portfolio is that for wind, solar, and even geothermal, you can’t depend on it for base power. So now you still need to replace Intermountain Power’s portion of LA’s energy mix with a plant or source this is acceptable for base load power capability.
    So now you are spending both for renewable (more money than conventional) and for base load power (even if under a purchase power contract).

  9. Anonymous says:

    DWP has excessive electric capacity (for now). The only problem is that about 40% of the power comes from Intermountain Power, a coal fired plant in Utah.
    LA has to get out of that plant (either 2020 or 2027, depending on decisions made by the Mayor and Council) and put in place a renewable portfolio.
    The problem with the renewable portfolio is that for wind, solar, and even geothermal, you can’t depend on it for base power. So now you still need to replace Intermountain Power’s portion of LA’s energy mix with a plant or source this is acceptable for base load power capability.
    So now you are spending both for renewable (more money than conventional) and for base load power (even if under a purchase power contract).

  10. mariscal says:

    Jim – thanks for the advice, it is much appreciated.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Trutanich played hardball on this one, trying to prove his value to the city by being the tough guy who raised the rents. He’s hoping that it will help him when his insane ACE Program comes up for approval. It’s a massive shake down of residents and small business owners who so far have been blind to the monster they are creating. Trutanich has been doing his best snake oil salesman act on this, even lying about ACE on the Kevin James Show – he said it was his idea, but it actually was one of Rocky’s plans. He also said that he shared his idea with San Diego and Santa Monica and they’re working “just fine.” Problem is that both cities had those programs long before Trutanich was City Attorney. If Trutanich is lying about ACE, don’t you have to wonder why? If it was so good, it wouldn’t need this kind of hard sell. You need to take a much closer look at what you are about to inflict on city residents and small businesses – this is a disaster. More at “>http://bit.ly/kfAdp1“> http://bit.ly/kfAdp1

  12. Anonymous says:

    All it proves is that San Diego and Santa Monica have been ripping off their citizens even more than LA. No ACE here.

  13. Wayne from Encino says:

    Carmen “gaga” Trutanich has declared war on City property owners with the ACE program and the sidewalk plan to have private citizens PAY TO REPLACE DAMAGED PUBLIC SIDEWALKS! He’s a FAME MONSTER–which is what City Hall does to all who go into it and get paid to be in it!
    I don’t think a single soul can go into Spring St. after being elected and not become an outright whore for AEG and the DWP! It’s just the air in that building or something that contaminates all who work within it. L.A.s “gaga” has had 2 years in office—that’s quite enough time, TIME TO RESIGN and REFUND THE MONEY HE GOT FROM THE GRASS ROOTS SUPPORTERS WHO BELIEVED IN HIS “LEAD FOR THE LITTLE GUY” LIES AND CRAP HE RAN WITH. Homeowners will be surrounded by four economic horseman of economic doom very soon: 1/ DWP RATE HIKES/TRASH FEES HIKED 2/ ACE PROGRAM 3/ SIDEWALK REPAIR BILLS, and 4/ SPECIAL LIGHTING AND MAINTENANCE DISTRICT TAXES. If can leave L.A. I’D SAY GOOD TIME TO RUN NOT WALK AWAY FROM THIS GAME.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Stupid people from Encino whining like they live in Boyle Heights
    I didn’t know you Jews from Encino were too poor to pay your bills. Let me know when you foreclose on your West Valley mansions and have to go east of the 405. Then maybe we’ll listen to your bullshit about economic hardship

  15. EllieB says:

    Just read comment from Anonymous June 30, 10:58 pm. Your comment was insulting and inaccurate! Suggest you get a better, more well rounded education.

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