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BREAKING: Over 50 Street Vendors Removed From K-Town’s ‘El Salvador Corridor’ By Cedillo’s Office

4:58 PM PDT on May 10, 2022

Salvador Corridor

Rebecca Mendez’s mother in their stand of over nine years at El Salvador Corridor.

For over 20 years, the El Salvador Corridor street food market has been serving fresh produce and Salvadorian specialties to the community residing on Vermont Avenue. But as of yesterday, the cultural, and culinary hub that was Salvador Corridor has been shut down.

The corridor was made up of more than 50 vendors and ran between 11th and 12th street. It was blocked off yesterday with chain-linked fences. According to the first report of the closure, the Department of Sanitation (LASAN), BSS and councilman Gil Cedillo shut down the corridor for sanitation issues, the closure was also part of yet another beautification project. 

The project is said to have come after multiple complaints were made for lack of sanitation and claims of multiple accidents happening in the area correlated with vendors. L.A. TACO did reach out to Cedillo’s office for clarification on these complaints and accidents to which his office responded with a press release. Not much information was provided other than LASAN and other organizations being the ones leading the clean-up efforts for what they said has been a year-long effort. A spoke person for Cedillo’s office did tell Telemundo 52 that there were complaints of bad odors coming from the area. 

The removal of street vendors is reminiscent of the removal of Avenue 26, where last August over 100 street vendors were removed without notice by Cedillo’s office. After two failed meetings and claims from his office offering to relocate the vendor community, it all fell through. The vendors were not able to return to Avenue 26 and many had to relocate to neighboring cities. According to that same release, Cedillo's office worked with several community organizations such as the Pico-Union Neighborhood Council, the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund (SALEF), Unification of Disabled Latin American (UDLA), and Community Warriors 4 Peace to facilitate the displacement and advise vendors beforehand. But vendors who earned their living selling food and other goods think otherwise.  

“This is how it starts, we’re not dumb. We know that they say they are going to clean the street so that’s why they are asking us to move but that’s just an excuse to get us out of here,” said street vendor Rebecca Mendez. “And they don't provide any solutions or options for us. It’s either move or be ticketed; we feel attacked.”

Mendez has taken over her mother’s stand for the past four years, but her mom has been selling fresh produce for over nine years in the same location. She took over her mother’s stand after her mom began to lose her memory. The produce vendor said although vendors received notices about the potential clean-up a week ago, this past Sunday many began to move from their original location out of fear.

“An organization came to inform us about the cleanup and we did notice that week the city came and was taking pictures,” she said. 

According to Mendez, she is already seeing a great loss in sales, and it’s only been one day. She moved just two blocks down and said she made less than $100 yesterday. “Even on a bad day I used to make $300 when selling at the corridor,” she said over the phone.  

She added that other people are being affected by this too, like the 80-year-old lady who they buy candy from to sell. “What is she going to do? We cant buy in bulk like we used to because we won't sell the same amount somewhere else,” she said.

When the news broke, she described another vendor who sells mariscos crying and telling her he couldn't believe they’d have to move. For these vendors, these removals are hard not just because of the loss of income but because of the loss of community. Many have built community not just among themselves but with their clients too. Xiomara Varela who is a merchant street vendor in the corridor has been there for about five years. 

"A lot of us are single mothers and families who depend on this to raise our families right. We need help because it's not right how this was done," she said.

For now, some vendors have moved into neighboring blocks and others had the option of paying rent for a 10x10 space inside the parking lot of the corridor, according to community organizer, Lester Velazquez.

“They are paying a lady who is said to own the lot, she is charging $1,500 for a 10x10 space a month,” he said. “That is a ridiculous amount [for the tiny space] and that is what these removals can cause. People taking advantage of others.”

Vendors are hoping some type of resolution will be made as many of them hear that organizations like SALEF are in talks with Cedillo’s office. In an interview with Telemundo, Jocelyn Duarte, SALEF’s executive director said:

"We have even talked with the councilman and he has made us a commitment that he will help them pay if they sell within the district or are in that area, he has promised to pay those permits for them.”

However, some vendors have been through these types of removals so often that their hope in officials dwindles every time a situation like this happens. Not to mention for vendors who sell food, obtaining a health department permit is impossible even if they had the money to pay for them. The street food vendors from Ave 26 displaced by Cedillo are still scattered around.  

“We are simply making a living. We want to work. What they [officials] need to do is sit down with us and talk to us,” she said. “Let's work together so that this doesn’t happen, but unfortunately, they seem to not want to do that, I don't know why? Are we not important enough?”

Today vendors will be meeting with organizations at  6 PM in Westlake a few blocks away from MacArthur Park in hopes of organizing and finding a new location to sell. If they are unable to come to an understanding vendors have said they will peacefully protest. 

“The solution is to unite. That is the only way we are going to get through this. Let's get signatures. I know there's a lot of people against us but if we don't try, we won't know.”

The vendors are meeting  318 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, CA 90057 

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