You know the economy's bad when longstanding family-owned shops on Olvera Street are getting pushed out — and when the pressure's coming from City Hall. That's the way it sounds, at least, in a story posted by BlogDowntown. The piece, written by Eric Richardson and Ed Fuentes, cites the case of the Casa de Sousa gallery and coffeeshop recently getting an eviction notice for not having a concession agreement — even though the establishment's been run there by the Sousa family for decades.

It seems that the City Council, under the gun to find more revenue, is eyeing ways to end budget subsidies for the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument/tourist magnet. At issue is council criticism of El Pueblo, sparked by findings from a recent audit, for not maintaining well-defined building leases and concession agreements with its tenant businesses on Olvera Street — and for failing to allow rents to rise to market levels.

Meanwhile, according to the Downtown News, lease negotiations between Olvera Street merchants and the council's auditing committee could begin in late August. One sticking point is whether to have vendors sign relatively short leases of a few years (which would benefit El Pueblo — and the city) or stay the course with the kind of 55-year leases signed by a number of businesses a decade ago.

The change of attitude against Olvera Street's 74 merchants could make the negotiations an emotional battle — pitting longtime businesses against a city trying to redress

glaring discrepancies in fees.

“The audit,” wrote the Downtown News

Richard Guzman, “found that El Pueblo tenants currently pay an average

of $1.35 per square foot, but should be paying a market rate of

$2.65-$6.75 per square foot.”

LA Weekly