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Occupy Protest Draws Attention To Two Small Businesses

— The owners of a hot dog cart and a coffee stand in Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego say the Occupy San Diego protests have forced them to close their businesses.

Now help from the city is arriving in various forms. But with the economy hurting a lot of businesses why should San Diego single out these two? Mayoral Spokeswoman Rachel Laing said, in the case of the coffee cart, it’s about upholding a contract.

“This woman was actually a tenant of the city in Civic Center Plaza,” she said. “And we have certain obligations that we have to meet, according to our lease contract with her.”

Laing said the city will waive the coffee cart’s rent for as long as it stays closed. She said, the city has been working hard to balance business interests, free speech and public safety in the plaza.

Councilman Carl DeMaio disagrees. DeMaio, who’s running for Mayor, is organizing a fundraiser for both business owners tonight. In a statement he said protestors have created an unsanitary and threatening environment at the Civic Center.

“I believe the City should have acted sooner to restore law and order at the Civic Center,” DeMaio said in the statement

But protestors maintain claims of threats and harassment by the business owners are overblown. They want the city council to pass a resolution in support of their movement.

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