North Hollywood 'Swap Meet' vendors one step away from eviction
Just days ago, several North Hollywood Swap Meet business owners received a letter, giving them 30 days to vacate the venue; now fearful of losing their jobs, they literally cry out for help from the city of Los Angeles.
On Monday and Tuesday they carried out protests outside the premises as well as in front of the office of the councilor who represents the area, Paul Krekorian (CD2), so that they find a solution to the notification they received so suddenly.
Roberto López, who has had his Mexican restaurant at the swap meet for eight years, said what they are facing is cruel since the closure could affect around 100 businesses.
Some establishments are multi-generational and have on-site as many as 30 years or more. Roberto explains that many of these businesses hire employees who would also be affected.
“The letter says that we have to vacate until March 31 because the lease on the property has expired and they no longer want to renew it,” he explained. “So we are fighting for them to give us a direct lease with the owner of the land since the owner of the swap meet no longer wants to continue.”
Roberto said that the main problem is that a license is needed to be able to manage the swap meet and without that document, the owner cannot rent the property to them.
“We are asking the councilman [Paul Krekorian] talk to them to help us get the license, to speed up the process or tell us what we should do”.
I confess that I do not know what the land use objective would be, but since the area is industrial, it could be used in different ways.
Luis Romero, who has had his shoe-fixing business for more than eight years at the swap meet, said it is very inconsiderate that they want to fire them with such short notice and without giving them options.
He assured that the place is a pleasant place, not only for business owners but also for families - many of them low-income - who enjoy visiting the swap meet to have fun.
"It's not fair that they do this to families who are hard-working and need the money to pay their bills and support their families," he said.
"On Monday [28 de febrero] we pay our rent and by wednesday [2 de marzo] We got the letter."
He added that he was one of several businessmen who came to Councilman Krekorian's office in North Hollywood for help, but no one answered the door.
He indicated that he will participate in all the necessary movements to attract the attention of the councilor and the city council so that hundreds of families who benefit from the jobs at the swap meet are not displaced.
He added that if the eviction is imminent, that they should be given at least three months to be able to look for something with more time.
When Wendy Delgado received the stimulus checks from the federal government for her three children, she decided that she would invest them so she could create more profit instead of spending them all at once. It was thus that a little over eight months ago she opened her first business at the swap meet in North Hollywood selling tupperware and kitchen items.
“It was a very good option because I had my very young baby and so I can bring him here,” the woman said Wednesday as she pushed her 2-year-old baby's stroller toward her business.
However, like dozens of business owners at the swap meet, he received the notification that hit him like a bucket of cold water.
The letter dated February 19, 2022 and signed by Fred Kim, president of the North Hollywood swap meet, indicates that he can no longer renew the agreement with the unnamed property owner.
"They don't give us options, they just say it's closed and nothing else," Delgado said worriedly. "They do not consider us as people or realize how much they are affecting us."
Across the aisle was Mirza Garza with her 5 and 2 year old children. She started her business four years ago and said that while she doesn't make much money from the sale, it helps her get by while she cares for her two children.
She indicated that she could not accept what was happening and felt extremely worried and stressed.
"I just got a second store and they didn't tell me anything... I went to a cundina to get more merchandise and now I don't know what I'm going to do," he said.
Garza, who sells cleaning and household items, said that her home is very small and if she is forced to close she will have to rent a place to store her merchandise, which would be an extra expense without receiving any income in return.
Both Delgado and Garza said they have no vehicles and walk from their homes to the swap meet.
Juana Medina, owner of a menswear business, said the family business was started by her father more than 20 years ago and eventually she continued to run it.
Now the business consists of two stores that face each other and are the main breadwinner for his family.
He said that he has already looked for a place but that the rent is extremely expensive and he does not think that in a little more than two weeks he will be able to find something that fits his budget.
“I get stressed because we get money for the week from here, from here we pay for the house and all our expenses”… If we have to leave [al menos] Give us more time."
Susy Lemus, who has had her party arrangement business with her sister for more than 10 years, said it is unfair that the owner does not want to deal with them to reach a solution.
"Many of us depend on businesses to survive, here we are like a family... But so far the owner has not shown up or listened to us."
She added that what irritates her the most is that in one of the two notices sent to them to evict, they are told that if they do not leave by March 31 they will be forced to pay a fine of $600.
The businessmen said they are disappointed with their local representative as their prayers seem to be falling on deaf ears. So far the options they are given are minimal and something they already know but it is not what they want.
Roberto Lopez said the councilman's office suggested they apply for small business assistance for those who qualify or seek legal advice.
"But they are not understanding us, what we need is for them to pressure the owner of the land so that they give us the lease and we have the necessary license."
The businessmen said they will keep their calls for help and demonstrations every day until someone comes along to support them.
"We don't want more news and that they continue to put us on TV and in the newspaper, we want someone to come and tell us: 'We are going to help you,'" stressed another frustrated businesswoman who did not want to provide her name.
La Opinion tried to get a comment from the owners of the North Hollywood Swap Meet at press time, there was no response.
For its part, Councilman Krekorian's office said in a statement that it is concerned vendors there will be affected by the impending closure.
“The Councilman would prefer that this business continue in its current location, but unfortunately, the operator of the swap meet is not interested in renewing his lease”, indicates the
He added that because the contractual matter is between private parties, the City of Los Angeles has no direct authority over them.
"If the swap meet operator finds another place to do business in Council District 2, this office will be happy to expedite the licensing and permitting process," the statement concluded.
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