Rage Building in Downtown Calexico Business Owners

By Mario Conde

Calexico Downtown merchants spoke clearly and tough to the Calexico City Council about the delay of opening their businesses.

The 7.2 earthquake that rattled the region almost two week ago made damages to Downtown Calexico as City officials decided to close the historic downtown for safety reasons. The Border Patrol and the Calexico Police Department patrolled downtown and did not allow people walk on area. Some buildings were severally damaged and as City inspectors reviewed each building. The Calexico City Council held a special session that Tuesday and told downtown merchants after evaluating the inspections some businesses would be able to open last Friday.

A 5.3 earthquake hit Calexico last Thursday Morning while Senator Barbara Boxer was walking the streets of Calexico to see the damages. City staff had to inspect every building all over again and made further damage to some businesses and the decision was made not allow merchants to go into their buildings until this Wednesday as a matter of precaution. The City closed more streets in the downtown area that now included Fourth Street and Paulin in Calexico.

The Imperial Valley Transit bus station at Third Street was moved to Fourth in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Taxis were moved to west Second Street in front of Bank of America and has made it difficult for them to work since they now have to make a U-turn in that street and enter the alley next to the bank to and take Imperial Ave. in order to get to their destination. The City started putting fences at different parts of downtown Tuesday night.

T.C. Worthy owner Eduardo Lopez told the Calexico City Council that downtown merchants are being held hostage and cannot afford to be closed. He said the people elected them to solve problems but have failed as well as City staff to do so. “El Centro already opened their downtown; Mexicali has also done the same, why not us? We as merchants are more than willing to help rebuilt downtown and we are up to the challenge and we need to take charge now!” Lopez said. The audience applauded his remarks.

Robert Martinez who leases space at downtown said that merchants have not been given information about the buildings that are going to be demolished or could fall. He questioned as to why the City would not allow merchants to go into their buildings with the engineers and look if they are cleared to go back to business. “Gentleman, we don’t have information, and that is very disappointing since we need to know what are we going to fix and how much do we need to spend to improve our stores.” He said.

City Manager Victor Carrillo said that downtown merchants will be allowed to enter their businesses Wednesday morning to begin the cleanup of their store so they can look for a possible opening Thursday. Merchants would have to fill out a form and waive the City of Calexico of any responsibility for injury.

Carrillo said that the Small Business Administration will be in Calexico and will provide assistance with loans and financing for reconstruction and store improvements. The SBA will be at the Carnegie Technological Library, Carrillo said.