Olvera Street

Olvera Street Business Owners Call for Rent Forgiveness, Say Pandemic Leaves Their Future Uncertain

Because they depend on tourists to stay open, they now see themselves forced to shut down.

Marcela Navarrete

The historic Olvera Street is experiencing difficult times due to the coronavirus pandemic, and its merchants are crying out for rent forgiveness so they don't have to close their businesses in the heart of LA.

The business owners, many of whom have been working there for decades, say there's no other way out. There are no tourists, no income, and they don’t have enough money to pay the rent on their stalls.

On a normal day before the pandemic, Olvera Street would be full of tourists. Now it’s an empty street with shuttered storefronts.

"If they don't help us, if they don’t grant us rent forgiveness... And I’m not saying for six months, I say we’ll easily need eight or nine months, because this is going to be long. We’ve been here for two and a half months and we haven't even sold what we used to sell in a week,” David Solorzano, owner of a restaurant called La Luz del Día, said.

Olvera Street has always been known for more than just food and crafts. It's famed for offering visitors culture and history lessons about how LA came to be.

And because they depend on tourists to stay open, they now see themselves forced to shut down.

"We are forced to close. My neighbors here are not working, they’re not selling. It’s not right for them to close us and still want us to pay rent yet," Eduardo Flores, from Juanitas Mexican Café, said.

"I’ve been at this restaurant for 48 years and I have never seen anything like this. If someone doesn’t help us, if the city does not help us, the spirit of Olvera Street will die," Solorzano said.

In response to the situation, Councilor Jose Huizar said he wants to help the Olvera Street business owners.

"I support the affairs of this historic location. I’ve filed a motion asking for rent forgiveness and other measures that will help prevent the definitive closure of these businesses," he said in a statement to our sister station Telemundo 52.

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