Photo: (Jacqueline García/La Opinion) / Impremedia
A group of vendors who own ice cream trucks and fruit and taco carts have been looking for options for their vehicles after the police station where they are kept gave them until this Wednesday, June 15, to leave.
The police station, or yard as some call it, is an area where food trucks are kept. It has necessary things approved by the health department such as sinks for fruits and dishes, refrigerators and washers for the trucks that have the snow machine and nachos.
Liborio Rojas said that about 15 years ago his wife began renting space to store their ice cream truck at the La Palma Ice Cream Inc. police station, located at 3204 N. Figueroa Street.
A few years later they brought in a second truck, which Rojas drives, and they worked happily until they received an unpleasant notice 15 days after paying their rent in May. They were told that they had until June 15 to remove their trucks and belongings from the police station, which would cease operations.
The notification indicated that whoever did not comply with the order by the end of the day on June 15, the company would remove their vehicles with a crane.
“But they would have told us with more time to look for a place. They told us that they are going to cut off our electricity and everything,” Rojas said. And we can’t park them [los camiones] outside the house because the health department asks us to park them at a police station.”
Vendors estimate that the station rents space to owners of more than 100 vehicles at about $350 per space.
Francisca Gil has been a tenant on La Palma for 20 years. She currently rents space for her two trucks. She said that in all this time she had paid her rent on time and because her trucks are larger it is difficult for her to find an affordable rental that meets the requirements.
“We want the city to help us find another place or land to have a yard to store the trucks. We don’t want it for free, we’re going to continue paying,” said Gil. Some of them said that after going through so much paperwork to get their vendor and health permits they are in limbo as they could lose them if they don’t have a place to store their vehicles.
Mrs. Carmen Meneses, who has also been selling ice cream for 19 years, said she has no option to store her truck.
“Right now I and another colleague arrived at 6 in the morning in case [la comisaría] He was trying to keep us out,” said Meneses, assuring that they do not have a key to the gate.
Inside the warehouse were several fruit and taco vendors getting ready for their sale of the day. However, several of them could not hide their concern to know what awaits them.
José Ayala, a taco vendor, said that for six years he has been renting space for his cart inside the warehouse where they keep the smaller cars.
He said that what bothers him the most is that after they received the notice to vacate the area, they put up some ads with five or six police stations where they supposedly can move.
“For example, here I pay $350 a month and they want to send me for the Avalon and they charge me double, plus a deposit. I don’t understand that, it’s like a joke,” said Ayala. “And usually the owners of those other police stations are the same as here.”
Petition to elected officials
The group of vendors said that as soon as they found out they went to the office of area councilman Gil Cedillo to ask for help but they have only been offered educational and practical workshops, but nothing from a locality.
“What we want is to continue doing our thing. I have been here 14 years, so that overnight they tell us that we can no longer be here,” said Alfredo Velasco. “I told the owner, at least he would have given us three months to have time but they waited until the last to collect as much money as possible [en renta]”.
The vendors said that another option would be to allow them to set up a cooperative and rent them the police station, which they will be in charge of completely. Or that they give them a space as they did a few weeks ago with the vendors of the Salvadoran Corridor, in the Pico-Union area and which is also represented by Councilman Cedillo.
The vendors held a rally outside Los Angeles City Hall last week and held another rally outside the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to draw attention to what happened.
They said that they will keep guard at the police station and will try to stay there until they are helped to find a solution.
La Opinion tried to contact La Palma Ice Cream Inc. but at press time there was no response.