City Flower Shop owner Gloria Guerra received a visit from a city of Mission employee ordering her to pay a permit fee for selling easter eggs in her shop. After some back and forth and refusal to pay the $150 fee, Gloria reached out to Mayor Armando O’Caña who eventually told her it must be paid.
The permit ordinance that was passed into law under former Mayor Beto Salinas’s administration was meant to target street vendors that don’t have a brick-and-mortar unit. But despite Guerra running her shop out of a building where she already pays about $10,000 in property taxes, she was forced to apply for a peddler’s permit, later paid by her attorney.
“I’m not a peddler. I don’t sell in the streets. I’m selling them in my business,” Guerra said. “I’m very proud of my business. It might be a small business but it’s my family’s. And I will protect my business to the very end.”
City Flower Shop is a family-owned and operated business that has been in Mission for 52 years. This is not the first time Guerra was told by city employees that she needed a permit to sell easter eggs or easter baskets in her establishment. When this happened around last Easter, Guerra also refused to pay then. But this time, the City representatives were more insistent.
Following the incident, the shop owner sought legal help from family friend and Mission lawyer Rick Salinas, who was adamant he cover the permit fee himself. Rick Salinas is also the son of former Mayor Beto Salinas.
“That ordinance was put in place to protect a class of people,” the lawyer said. “It’s designed to protect our local business people — our restaurateurs, flower shops, our local business from what? Raiders aka peddlers that come in and peddle flowers from other areas…and they take away business from our local businesses that have to pay taxes. So the initial purpose of that ordinance was implemented from our prior mayor to protect our local business, taxpayers in Mission.”
Rick Salinas said he was informed by city officials that he would be refunded his money and that the ordinance would be modified. Mission’s mayor also confirmed that he and the city council will be reviewing the ordinance, per O’Caña’s request. The mayor also said he believes local tax-paying businesses should not need to pay extra for a permit to sell seasonal-related products or to extend their services to the sidewalk and curbside.
“The mayor and the council will be reviewing the ordinance to make the necessary changes to be able to allow our regular commercial everyday businesses to be able to sell their products year-round,” O’Caña said. “And if they come up with innovative ideas like easter baskets…we support that.”
Guerra’s lawyer, however, thinks it is more important Guerra receives an apology from the mayor because she didn’t do anything wrong. But the flower shop owner said she isn’t upset at anyone; she is just upset at the way the City handled the situation.
“You’re supposed to help the businesses in town, not come and hurt us. We’ve been through enough with this COVID. We’ve been through enough. We’re trying to breathe and then they come and do this?” the shop owner said. “It’s nothing personal with Mayor Salinas. It’s nothing personal with Mayor O’Caña. It’s just I think we have rights and they should abide by the rules. The city should protect us.”