Plaza coffee cart owner to get rent concessions from city - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Plaza coffee cart owner to get rent concessions from city

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city Wednesday offered rent concessions to the owner of a Civic Center Plaza coffee cart, who claimed that harassment by Occupy San Diego protesters forced her close up shop.

"I think it's awesome," Linda Jenson said of the offer.

Jenson has operated the cart for four years in front of the Civic Theatre, serving city workers during the day and playgoers at night.

She said she had to close down on Oct. 24 after she was threatened by protesters and followed home. Her cart, she said, was in a pool of urine from people who had set up a tent city in the plaza.

"It was terrifying," said Jenson, who conceded that she did not file a police report.

The city is offering to waive her rent for October, not charge her until her cart is back in operation and give her a rent credit to cover the cost of professional cleaning of her equipment, according to city spokeswoman Rachel Laing.

Her lease with the city is for $1,000 per month or 15 percent of gross receipts, whichever is more, Laing said.

It is not known if Letty Soto, the operator of a hot dog cart that also operates in the Community Concourse, will receive the same benefit. Her lease is with a private firm that owns the Civic Center Plaza office building.

Soto, who has operated the cart since 2001, also had to shut down last week. She said she lost thousands of dollars last month, and will not return until the protesters are gone for good.

Soto said she was "shaking" just being back at the plaza, where both cart operators spoke to reporters, because many of the people who caused her trouble were still there. Jenson, also visibly upset at times, said the same thing.

However, several Occupy San Diego protesters stepped up to offer the women cash and hugs during the news conference organized by Councilman Carl DeMaio.

DeMaio arranged a fundraiser for the women for Monday at 6 p.m. at Downtown Johnny Brown's restaurant, located in the far corner of the plaza, and encouraged San Diegans to offer donations. Both need more than just rent credits to get back on their feet again, he said.

Kyle Haverback, of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said it was "fishy" that DeMaio called the news conference, noting that he's running for mayor.

"It's in his interest to demonize this movement," Haverback said.

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