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Councilman DeMaio Questions City’s Obligation To Small Businesses Affected By Occupy San Diego

A San Diego councilman asked today for a report on what obligations the city might have regarding two small businesses whose owners closed up shop at the Civic Center Plaza because of the Occupy San Diego protests.

Carl DeMaio suggested at a City Council meeting that the operators of the hot dog cart and coffee cart might be due rent credits or other assistance from the city.

His request was forwarded to the mayor's office.

Letty Soto, the owner of Brooklyn Dogs, told the council she lost regular clients and was "threatened verbally'' by protesters. She also had equipment stolen and her car smeared with blood, she said.

Soto described her enterprise as "a small independent business'' that is her only source of income.

Last week, the woman who owns the coffee cart had to close after a confrontation with protesters, which was captured by television news cameras.

The protesters, part of a loose-knit nationwide movement against perceived corporate greed and government corruption, came under heated criticism from public speakers before the City Council for the first time.

Samuel Huerta said he has videotapes that show the protesters "party all night and sleep all day'' and are so loud after dark that many downtown homeless have moved away from the area.

"I have witnessed the members of Occupy San Diego disrespecting our San Diego police officers every day,'' Huerta said.

The number of protesters at the downtown Community Concourse has dwindled to just a few since their unauthorized tent community was cleared out by police early Friday morning.

Christopher McKay told the council during the open comment period on non-agenda topics that "a serious independent investigation'' of "police brutality'' was necessary because of Friday's raid.

He said that just like a "very few'' Occupy San Diego members have caused trouble, so have a "very few'' police officers.

Occupy San Diego member Chase Fite asked city officials to grant them a "sanctioned space,'' which he said would reduce tension with police and allow officers to return to their normal law enforcement duties.

Supporters of the protest movement renewed their demands for a resolution of support, but for the second week in a row, no such declaration was on the agenda.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 1, 2011 at 5:27 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

DeMaio is a liar and a parasite. He doesn't care about some woman's hot dog stand, he is latching onto this in a desperate display of political pandering.

This political charlatan DeMaio will take his defense of a hot dog stand and use it to declare he has "stood up for small businesses that spur jobs in San Diego county".

Nice try, Mr. DeMaio, but the 99% think you are a creep. Good riddance after you lose in the mayoral race next year!

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Avatar for user 'malo858'

malo858 | November 2, 2011 at 11:02 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

This is a perfect opportunity for the Occupy movement to anger the general public and even supporters who are offended that local businesses have to suffer as a result of the protest. DeMaio's move is a step in the right direction. As Pete Perez, who operates the hot dog stand along with his wife said, "I'm part of the 99 percent too. Why are they hurting my business." Times are tough as it is and now these hardworking business owners that pay taxes and haven't done anything wrong, have to suffer. That's foul OSD.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 3, 2011 at 1:46 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

malo858, your post offers a well-written critique, but no solution.

What, exactly, do you propose Occupy does?

Halt all protests to save a hot dog stand?

Sorry, but the city itself is refusing to give Occupy a place to protest, and then a council member turns around and complains a hot dog stand is losing business?


I have been to Occupy protests, as have many of my friends, and we purchase food during the day at neighborhood establishments all the time.

If anything, I would think this is bringing many new customers to the area.

This seems to be less about a legitimate business being hurt by protests, and more about a desperate political attempt to try and stop the protests.

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Avatar for user 'emilyliberty'

emilyliberty | November 4, 2011 at 3:24 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

Occupy San Diego members openly express their support for Centre City Coffee and Brooklyn Dogs, the family-owned vendor carts operating at the Civic Center, and will make a donation to both businesses in show of this support on Monday, November 7. Occupy San Diego will continue to exercise its First Amendment right to protest, which is trusted to be able to exist harmoniously with Centre City Coffee and Brooklyn Dogs.

Ironically, many at Occupy San Diego expressed the desire to see Centre City Coffee and Brooklyn Dogs actually extend their hours of operation to accommodate nightly General Assembly meetings. The majority of activists participate at the Civic Center occupation after regular business hours.

“Another small coffee and sandwich shop, not much larger than the coffee cart or the hot dog cart, took a different approach,” said Ray Lutz, Occupy San Diego Organizer. “When the manager overheard his customers talking about certain electronic devices and tools that they needed, he decided to offer those devices and tools. Over time, by listening to his customers and meeting their needs, the sandwich shop turned into an electronics shops too, which still has a small coffee and sandwich shop reminiscent of its original roots. Success is simple: listen to your customers, and give them what they want, rather than fighting with them and then begging for a hand-out from the city.”

It is unfortunate these small businesses were unable to capitalize on the large number of new people in their physical location as a result of Occupy San Diego, and disappointing to see our elected city council member, Carl DeMaio, publishing untrue and libelous statements about Occupy San Diego in the press. Many local businesses actually claim increased revenue as a result of Occupy San Diego's presence in downtown San Diego the past few weeks.

“I'm sure any business would appreciate a fundraiser in this down economy, but a handout from the city and the event planned by Carl DeMaio is more about getting publicity for his Mayoral campaign and tarnishing Occupy San Diego than helping business interests,” said Occupy San Diego participant Rick Halsey. “Other nearby businesses are up due to the new customers. These complaints make no sense.”

Occupy San Diego is aware Centre City Coffee and Brooklyn Dogs have been facing challenges in the Civic Center location for years. Centre City Coffee's Linda Jenson wrote on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 in a San Diego City Beat letter to the editor, wherein she stated, “I am one of the private businesses at the Civic Center and deal with...violent behavior (stabbings, beatings, robberies), drug and alcohol abuse and dealing.”

Occupy San Diego has created a welcoming space where people are provided basic medical assistance, food, and comfort regardless of housing status. Occupy San Diego calls upon our community to actively help address the homelessness issues at the Civic Center and in downtown San Diego.

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