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LA City Council takes steps to save Olvera Street's beloved "El Burro"

LA City Council votes to protect iconic Olvera Street donkey
LA City Council votes to protect iconic Olvera Street donkey 02:33

The Los Angeles City Council has decided to protect a stuffed donkey that has become a landmark of the famous Olvera Street in Downtown LA. 

"El Burro," or the donkey, has drawn countless people to Richard Hernandez's business, La Carreta. 

"It became an icon. It became a landmark here," Hernandez said. 

La Carreta was founded in 1968, and for several years, visitors would come and take pictures with the family's real pet donkey, Cirila. In the 1980's, the donkey was replaced by the life-size stuffed burro named Jorge.

"The burro has been here for as long as I can remember," resident Christina Mora said. "I have a picture of my daughter ... she was little and my husband on the burro."

Hernandez hopes the donkey and his business will be here for generations to come. His family recently ran into issues with the leasing contract and was about to be evicted.

"My mother came down to the office in 2019 to assure my sister, brother and I were on the new contracts," Hernandez said. "She officially submitted the paperwork for one reason or another, management neglected to put mine and my other sister on this business."

So when his mother passed away unexpectedly in April, Hernandez says five days later, he was told to vacate by the general manager of the Board of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority. 

"But I said 'Wait a minute, my mother submitted the paperwork,'" Hernandez said. "He said he went to the City Attorney's office, said I have no case, I have no contract, you have to vacate."

Hernandez turned to Councilman Kevin de Leon for help.

"The very fact that he was being evicted is so insane," de Leon said. 

On Friday, the City Council unanimously approved a motion by de Leon. It requests that the board immediately reconsider the leasing agreement and add Hernandez and his sister's names to the lease. 

"I have the full support of the City Council," Hernandez said. "I think I have a fighting chance."

The authority's general manager, Arturo Chavez, said he had no comment and declined to answer our questions. 

"This is my life passion, it really is," Hernandez said. "I love it. It doesn't make me rich but it does enrich my life."

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