San Jose sees first payment from flea market fund to relocate vendors

San Jose recently received funds from the Berryessa Flea Market landowner to help sellers make the transition following last year’s city council vote to change the property’s zoning for a future development.

The Bumb family, owners of the land, wired the first installment of $ 500,000 from $ 5 million a few days before the Jan. 1 deadline in San Jose. This deposit helps the city’s Economic Development Office, the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, and advocates for an advisory committee to be set up to determine the future of the flea market. The group has met twice a month since the June vote and plans to use part of the initial allocation to hire consultants to help define the scope, size and objectives of the advisory committee and fund two studies. .

The payment is part of a deal to help sellers prepare for the flea market closure. The closure will displace many of the more than 450 vendors who operate in the city’s largest flea market.

The deal, however, ensures that the 61-year-old flea market will remain open until at least July 2024. Closure depends on the developer’s schedule for the Berryessa BART Urban Village, a $ 3.4 million mixed-use project. square feet that sit on the site of the flea market.

Plans and payments

To support the sellers, the Bumb family will distribute the remaining $ 4.5 million before the flea market closes into two different allocations: $ 2 million when sellers receive the one-year closure notice and the 2, $ 5 million final on the last day of the operation. The city will allocate an additional $ 2.5 million to support vendors, bringing the total to $ 7.5 million.

The advisory committee will be responsible for supporting vendors throughout the transition period, deciding how to spend the remainder of the $ 7.5 million, and potentially identifying sites for a new flea market.

The vendors are interested in a worker-owned operation, said Nanci Klein, deputy director of San Jose at the Economic Development Bureau. The consultants will contribute to this effort.

Over the next two weeks, the city plans to send out a request for proposals to contract the consultants.

Klein told the San José Spotlight that the city has two goals with this new money: to both keep and leave as much money for sellers as a whole, and to ensure that sellers are supported throughout the transition. .

Mariana Mejia, Roberto Gonzalez and Kaled Escobedo Vega, members of the management of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, announced a hunger strike days before city council approved a site redevelopment plan of the market. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

The next step

While the advisory committee is still in the planning stages, the membership will consist of an overwhelming majority of flea market vendors, advocates for community organizations like Catalyze SV and a representative from the Bumb family.

“I think summer is when we could see this over, but we’re hoping a lot sooner than that,” Klein said.

Klein estimates that the cost of consultants, an economic flea market study, and a real estate appraisal to help sellers find a new location will total $ 350,000. The remaining balance of the $ 500,000 will be saved and potentially paid out as direct allocations to suppliers or applied to other costs.

The economic assessment will examine and highlight the benefits of the flea market to the city, vendors, residents, and small businesses over the past six decades.

“This will be valuable because the next generation of the flea market will most likely require investors and philanthropy, so the study will show the strength and value of the market,” Klein said.

The real estate appraisal will allow the advisory committee to determine the location of a new flea market and whether it can be owned by workers. Self-sufficiency is one of the main goals of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, which represents more than 450 vendors.

“Having a future market that will be managed and operated by us would empower our employees,” said Roberto Gonzalez, president of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association. “We also wouldn’t have those instances where this already wealthy landowner is trying to get even richer.”

Gonzalez was referring to a $ 300 bond imposed on vendors to cover any damage, despite many operating from tents. Another point of frustration among sellers is how homeowners responded to their request to allow sellers to have six month leases. The leases required six months of payment in advance.

“It was surprising, but it’s also impossible,” Gonzalez told the San José Spotlight. “For example, my dad and I pay $ 1,400 a month. We don’t have six times that amount in our bank like most other providers.

No seller signed the six-month lease for this reason, Gonzalez said.

Alex Shoor, executive director of Catalyze SV which is part of the Supplier Support Coalition, called it a model of “economic abuse” imposed by the Bumb family.

“It is absurd and offensive and forbids anyone to suggest that the seller pays every six months in advance,” Shoor told the San José Spotlight.

Erik Schoennauer, a land use consultant who represents the Bumb family, disagreed.

“At the end of the day, there really is no need for a six-month rental contract, as the owners of the market have agreed that the flea market will remain in operation until July 1, 2024,” Schoennauer said. , adding that require payments in advance. is common practice. “As long as suppliers play by the rules, they won’t be kicked out, so there’s no risk of termination. “

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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Elaine R. Knight