The mostly immigrant workers fear that they will not be able to return to their source of employment.

Sellers ask Metro to renew lease at MacArthur Park

Street vendors ask that the contract with Metro be renewed. (Supplied)

Street vendors / Courtesy

Olivia Camacho, 54, feels that she has not left one concern to enter another. The street vendor has been out of work for more than two months after the city ordered non-essential workers to stay home following the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. Now he does not know if he can return to sell to the same place.

In mid-March, Camacho and his 40 colleagues had to leave the Westlake / MacArthur Park station on the Red Line (B) of the Metro, where they have their community market, since the crowds were banned to avoid the spread of the virus.

A few days ago when the mayor of Los Angeles announced that some businesses would reopen, the vendors were happy as they looked a little closer on the day of returning to work.

However, soon afterward they learned that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the landlord, would not renew the contract.

"This is very sad because from here we eat, from here we pay the rent and if we stop selling what are we going to do," said the saleswoman, who is the main support of her family in Los Angeles and Mexico.

She said that she is already in a very precarious situation because she does not even have to pay her rent.

"I sell clothes and second class shoes. My husband is 67 years old and he is no longer employed anywhere, "said Camacho. “I also have my 11 year old boy. Where am I going to feed them from? ”

Juan Rodríguez, organizer with the Popular Union of Sellers, said that for three years they have had a constant lease with Metro.

"Before the vendors arrived this was like a drug distribution center, everything was very dirty and ugly," said Rodríguez. "They came to dignify the Metro station."

Olivia Camacho (d) along with other street vendors. (Supplied)

However, Rodríguez added that about two weeks ago the office of councilor Gil Cedillo, who represents the area, gave them the news that there would be no contract renewal, which lasted three years.

"This is unfair because they already closed us in the middle of the pandemic and right now they want to continue prohibiting them from selling. These are 40 families that are being affected, ”said the organizer.

On Wednesday afternoon, vendors held a press conference at the MacArthur Park Metro station to publicly ask for the support of Councilman Cedillo and Supervisor Hilda Solís, who is part of the Metro board of directors, to intercede for they.

Organizers say that most vendors are the elderly, the unemployed or single mothers who need these jobs to support themselves.

Camacho said that she has been selling for 20 years on the streets and three years in the MacArthur Park project; For her this is a worthy and valid livelihood that deserves to be recognized.

Vendors who demonstrated Tuesday said they are willing to do whatever it takes to stay in place.

Most of the street vendors are women. (Courtesy_

"If they don't renew our contract, we are willing to stay here and even go on a hunger strike," Rodríguez said.

In response to concerns, José Ubaldo, a Metro spokesman, said they remain committed to supporting the reopening of the community market and will provide the necessary police presence at Westlake / MacArthur Park Station.

However, it requires vendors using the area to comply with Los Angeles County Department of Health regulations to reopen businesses on-site.

"Metro is working closely with Los Angeles City Council District One, the Sales Manager, and their private security to provide a safe place for street vendors to operate a business here, in a safe environment during the COVID pandemic- 19 ”, indicated Ubaldo.

La Opinion asked the supervisor Solís and councilman Cedillo for comments, but at the end of this edition there was no response.


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