LA officials want El Salvador Corridor vendors gone, citing unsafe conditions in escalating conflict

PICO-UNION, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A bitter battle is unfolding between street vendors in one of Los Angeles' most polluted corridors and local politicians who want them off the streets as part of a new city beautification project.

The city says the vendors are unsanitary and have created unsafe conditions along the stretch of Vermont Street, but those who make their living selling on this stretch said their livelihood is at risk.

Bryan Fuentes' family has been selling their Salvadoran specialties in the El Salvador Corridor along Vermont Street between 11th and 12th for nearly two decades.

Now the city says it's time to go.

"There are so many families that depend on this site," Fuentes said. "For example, my family -- this is where the income comes from."

L.A. city councilman Gil Cedillo is leading the push to clear out dozens of street vendors as part of a sanitation repair and beautification project.

The more than 50 vendors who work in the area, including more than two dozen who were paying rent to create a street food market in the parking lot, said they have nowhere to go.

"We ask for help and we're not getting help," organizer Lester Velasquez said. "They keep on promising us so many things but it never comes to it."

On Tuesday, it was a packed house. No media was allowed inside at a community meeting with organizers and street vendors.

They said this has happened before. Cedillo helped clear out the Avenue 26 market in Lincoln Heights and they fear it's going to happen to them next.

"A lot of people, that's where their income comes [from]," said vendor Olide Escobar.

For many at the market, this is their sole source of income. Many are concerned that if the market closes, they won't be able to pay rent.

"At the end of the day, we have to eat, we have to get money," Fuentes said. "We don't want to move, but if we have to, I guess we must -- and many people are against it and we are going to fight until we can't to keep this place."

The vendors plan on holding a protest Wednesday afternoon as they fight to remain in the neighborhood.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.