No immediate transition funds for San Jose Flea Market vendors
Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association members Roberto Gonzalez and Kaled Escobedo and Catalyze SV Executive Director Alex Shoor address the crowd before the start of a June march in support of the vendors. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

San Jose Flea Market owners will pay millions to help vendors relocate amid looming development plans. But it will be some time before the retailers see a cent of that money.

Roberto Gonzalez, president of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, told San José Spotlight he believed the Bumb family, which owns the flea market, was going to give the city an installment of $500,000 this month. But Erik Schoennauer, land use consultant and representative for the family, said the funds aren’t being delivered until January 1.

Schoennauer told San José Spotlight the first payment will be made 120 days after the effective date of the planned development rezoning of the flea market. He said this detail may have confused some people.

“No funds are going out in October,” Schoennauer said.

A total of $7.5 million in relocation funds will be set aside for vendors, with $2.5 million coming from the city and flea market owners contributing $5 million. This follows months of protests and negotiations over a plan to rezone a 61.5 acre-portion of the flea market site into the Berryessa BART Urban Village project. The flea market will shrink to five acres, which Gonzalez said is barely enough room to house about one-quarter of the hundreds of vendors who currently use the space.

The first installment of funds in January will be used to create a flea market advisory group, which will handle the distribution of money. Membership will include a supermajority of vendors, plus representatives from the city and the flea market. Schoennauer said the flea market looks forward to participating in the advisory group process.

A second installment of $2 million will be placed in the transition fund after the market owners issue a one-year notice for vendors to leave on or after July 1, 2023. The Bumb family will pay a third installment of $2.5 million on the final day of the market’s operations.

Nanci Klein, deputy director of economic development for San Jose, told San José Spotlight the City Council recently approved adding an additional $2.5 million from the city’s general fund to assist with relocating vendors.

The primary purpose of the fund is to mitigate the cost to vendors forced to move to another location due to redevelopment at the current flea market. But Klein said the advisory group will largely determine how the $7.5 million is spent.

“There’s going to have to be a lot of good work, and some of it complicated, about what the future of the flea market is and where it goes,” Klein said.

Gonzalez said some vendors mistakenly believed the first round of funds would be used for direct payments. According to Gonzalez, some of the first installment may be used for economic studies of the flea market and to examine alternative locations for the flea market on city or county land.

“That’s why we’re going to work with the city and advocate that they try to build higher density—a higher density market,” Gonzalez said. “Something that would be able to accommodate all the current vendors and future vendors.”

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter.

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