Olvera Street Merchants Begin Rent Strike
A group of Olvera Street merchants has launched a rent strike after declaring an impasse in negotiations with the city agency that governs the historic district. The protest by 47 of the 70 merchants at the Mexican marketplace caps months of contentious negotiations on long-term leases and rent hikes with the city’s El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority. Merchant Albert Gribbell Velasco said the business owners placed their regular rents--along with what they consider appropriate rent increases--into a holding account Friday. They then appealed to the City Council to take over negotiations. The authority imposed interim rent hikes July 1 on all merchants who had not finished negotiating. But Gribbell’s group argued that the hikes should be postponed while negotiations concluded. He said his group offered to pay its regular rents but was rebuffed after the commission that oversees the authority voted Thursday not to accept partial rents. City officials could not be reached for comment.