Push to save Olvera Street’s beloved burro from eviction

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Countless visitors to Olvera Street at El Pueblo de Los Angeles have taken pictures with the burro that adorns the entrance of LA’s birthplace for the past five decades. 

Now the famous donkey and the business that has operated it for 57 years are at risk of leaving El Pueblo permanently due to a contract dispute.

“My mom and I came down today. We wanted to take a picture of it, especially if it’s not going to be here again,” said Michelle Lugo.

Last month, longtime owner Trancito Hernandez passed away, leaving the business to her children.

However, within weeks of her death, her son Richard Hernandez received a notice to vacate from the LA City Attorney’s Office, saying his name was never added to the lease agreement.

“I just can’t understand why the city is taking this position right now and not giving me an opportunity to talk with them and negotiate something,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said his mom attempted multiple times to add his name to the lease, but it’s unclear why it was never added.

The contract states that the lease agreement becomes voided 30 days after the death of the signee, his mother.

“They never said, ‘Oh, let’s talk about this. Come to the office,’” he explained. “They just let me work and waited for my mom to pass away to try to evict me.”

Since the late 1960s, the burro has had visits from celebrities, mayors and everyday travelers who pay a small fee to take a picture.

At one time, the attraction featured a live donkey, though today it is merely a stuffed animal, but just as popular as ever.

El Pueblo’s general manager, Arturo Chavez, said the issue is a contract dispute.

Hernandez was hoping to speak Thursday at El Pueblo’s Board of Commissioners bi-monthly hearing to plead his case, but the agenda item was postponed due to Hernandez’s mother’s funeral falling on the same day.

Chavez said he believes there is the possibility for a resolution and added that Hernandez’s vacate date of May 16 is on hold until he can speak before the commission.

“If that is true, that is the best news ever today,” Hernandez said.

It remains unclear when Hernandez’s next opportunity will be to speak before the commission, but the next scheduled meeting is set for May 23.

“This is my life. I love it. It’s very dear to me and my family,” Hernandez said. “I want to pass it on to one of my nephews or my nieces and whoever would love to be part of this.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.