by Rebecca Henely
October 7, 2010
Business owners near Corona Plaza, upset over what they contend is unfair competition from vendors who operate on the streets and moving vans which take up parking spaces for customers, have asked elected officials for help.
“They are taking the bread and butter from the other people,” said Ruben Pena, president of the Corona Community Action Network.
Pena, who operates Cristal Liquors on 40-28 National St., said moving vans park along Corona Plaza — a small, triangle-shaped park under the No. 7 train stop adjacent to Roosevelt Avenue and National Street — from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., feeding the one-hour meters with quarters.
“It’s very difficult to park in here,” Pena said.
Pena said he is also concerned about businesses operating on the adjacent streets, some of which may be doing so illegally. He said the businesses cause competition for legal establishments which pay taxes, and sometimes take up so much of the street it is hard for people to walk down them. Pena has been in talks with City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) to get the businesses relocated.
“They economy is not good,” Pena said. “With this competition, they drive the legal people out of business.”
John Ferreira, president of the Junction Boulevard Merchants Association, said both problems have existed in the area for a long time, with the food vendors on the streets having been a presence for several years.
“The regular little restaurants on Roosevelt Avenue really have unfair competition,” Ferreira said.
He said enforcement of these issues has been difficult. Sometimes the city Department of Health will do a sweep and rid the area of food carts, only to have them pop up again.
“It creeps into a neighborhood and then it’s hard to eradicate it,” Ferreira said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said the same is true of the trucks parking in the area. He said both the city Police Department and city Department of Transportation have been alerted to the problem, but the police said they do not have enough resources to deal with the issue and the DOT also has trouble enforcing the law.
“It so happens that every time they send an inspector over, there isn’t any trucks,” Peralta said.
He said the trucks are also a problem since many of them are unregistered, use fake IDs or use private license plates to try to avoid fines.
“We all know this is a company,” Peralta said. “They’re just sitting there waiting to be picked up to be hired.”
Peralta said some drivers have claimed they are being picked on because they’re immigrants, but Peralta said that is not the case.
“It’s not that we don’t want [them] to prosper, we just want [them] to find another spot or another area because [they are] really affecting local businesses,” Peralta said.
Ferreras said Corona Plaza is slated for renovation, which may solve some of the problems. She said elected officials are forming the Roosevelt Avenue Task Force to deal with the illegal businesses and other issues.
She also said it is important not to make any snap judgments about the vendors.
“We can’t assume all the vendors are illegal,” Ferreras said, “because they’re not.”