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Swap Meets Approved on College Campus

Times Staff Writer

Vendors can continue operating Sunday swap meets at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana for six months on a trial basis, college district trustees decided Tuesday.

The vote by the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Board of Trustees was 6 to 0. Board member Rodolfo Montejano, an associate of Norton Western Ltd., the private corporation that formerly sponsored the swap meets, abstained from voting on the new contract with the vendors.

Under the agreement, the Mercado (Spanish for open market), can operate Sundays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a designated campus parking lot. The swap meet had operated at the college campus under a contract that expired in December. The new contract will allow swap meets from Jan. 17 through July 3, and contains a provision allowing either party to cancel the pact by means of a 30-day written notice.

The Mercado is sponsored by the Santiago Club, a nonprofit corporation. The club’s members, most of whom are Latino, will provide security, management personnel, restrooms and sanitation, plus proof of liability insurance.

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The contract calls for the Santiago Club to pay the college 20% of the vendors’ gross receipts. The club will also pay the college’s foundation an amount equal to one-fifth of the amount paid to the college.

About 40 people, both vendors and neighbors opposed to the swap meets, crowded into the trustees’ tiny chambers for the hearing.

Zeke Hernandez, president of the Santa Ana chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told trustees he supports swap meets because they generate money for both community and college programs. “I think that is a plus for our community,” he said.

Swap meet foe Sara Broadbent disagreed. “A meager 20% of the swap meets profit is of little educational benefit to the school’s students and fails to compensate our community for the negative impact,” she said, citing increased traffic and noise as main concerns.

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Broadbent said she may ask city officials whether such swap meets violate zoning laws. The vendors were ousted from a city-owned parking lot in the spring because of community opposition.


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