Mauricio has been fixing bikes for Oceanside locals for almost three decades. He started building his clientele in 1991 when he opened his booth inside the Oceanside Marketplace, often called the indoor swap meet. His neighboring vendors sell clothes, pinatas, bridal gowns, toys, soccer uniforms, toys and Madonna statuettes. His 300-square-foot space is always one of the busiest.
For 15 years Mauricio operated a used bike emporium every Sunday at the outdoor Oceanside Swap Meet (his wife worked the indoor shop on that day). That ended in April when the swap meet closed after 30 years to make way for a wave park and housing development.
Now Mauricio is about to face his second big kick in the gut.
Heslin Holdings of Laguna Hills controls the Oceanside Marketplace at 2027 Mission Avenue. According to Tim McKeon of Heslin Holdings, all 40-plus vendors in the Oceanside Marketplace are about to lose their place of business when all 40,000 square feet of the indoor bazaar will be remodeled into a new campus of UEI College. McKeon says the move must still get the approval of the city of Oceanside.
Three different Oceanside councilmembers including Jack Feller, Esther Sanchez and Mayor Peter Weiss said they thought the new campus could be a boon to Oceanside. “I’m guessing it will bring jobs and needed vocational training,” said Feller.
“It’s about time we put more focus on blue collar jobs,” says Louise Balma who has spent 20 years serving on Oceanside’s planning and economic development commissions. “We need plumbers and electricians and nurses. College is not for everybody.
Founded in 1982, UEI (United Educational Institute) is a string of vocational schools that helps students train for jobs as medical/dental assistants, as auto techs, or in the building trades. There is a UEI college in San Marcos.
A call to the UEI Anaheim campus and an email to UEI’s media department seeking information about the new Oceanside UEI campus were not answered.
The Oceanside planning department confirmed that a conditional use permit to bring in a vocational school at 2027 Mission is in the works.
But what of Mauricio? “I lost the swap meet. If I lose this, what will I do? This is how I support my family. I will have to start over somewhere. I don’t know where I’d go.”
The Oceanside Marketplace provided a venue for many small entrepreneurs who could not afford their own brick and mortar storefront.
Crispina cuts hair for men and women. She was displaced from the outdoor swap meet and now she says she would also have no place to go when the Oceanside Marketplace goes away. “No hay otro,” she says of the availability of traditional commercial space. “The rent is too much.”
Eddie says he has been a regular customer of Mauricio’s at the Oceanside Marketplace for eight years. “There’s a lot of good people here who are just barely getting by,” he said of the vendors. “Hard working, honest people…small businesses who are literally getting squeezed out. I bought two bikes for my grandkids here.”
Jane McPherson, finance director for the city of Oceanside, says the news of the Oceanside Marketplace is coincidental to the approval of a new city ordinance at the September 11 city council meeting. In January of this year, SB 946 went into effect, mandating that all California communities must allow street vendors. Oceanside has approved its own ordinance to accommodate its own street vendors.
The ordinance spells out how displaced vendors from the Oceanside Swap Meet and the Oceanside Marketplace may now be able to sell their goods on the sidewalk. It says that vendors’ carts must be surrounded by a four foot clear path in every direction, that hours operation must be after 7 am and before 10 pm, and that alcohol, tobacco or vaping products can not be sold. The vending carts can not be on the beach, in the harbor, or in the area surrounding the pier. All food vendors would need to get appropriate county health permits.
“It is my understanding the law was created to promote economic development while helping with lower income communities,” says McPherson. “It basically says that cities cannot prohibit sidewalk vending on sidewalks and pedestrian pathways.”
But this new ordinance would not help Mauricio or Crispina. They both provide services. SB 946 only allows street vendors to sell actual products, not bike repairs or haircuts.
Located in the L-shaped strip mall between the Pep Boys auto parts store and the Oceanside Marketplace is Galvan’s Barbershop. An employee named Elsa says she was not surprised to hear that the nearby Oceanside Marketplace was about to leave. “A lot of these stores around here are on a month-to-month rent agreement. I would not be surprised if that happened to some of these other businesses here who are on a month-to-month.”
“I drive by there every day to go to work,” says real estate agent Chris Abad. “I used to get my barbecue supplies from there. It’s a bummer that’s all leaving. But I see a lot of empty spaces that aren’t being used. I think [the arrival of UEI] will make the place look nicer.”
Abad says the ugly “G” word is an inevitable part of Oceanside’s future. “Gentrification is not going to stop. This has been the only affordable real estate market on the coast. I know it means kicking certain people out to bring younger people in. It’s unfortunate because [Oceanside Marketplace] has always been a part of Oceanside. It was a part of Oceanside’s identity. I guess we thought that this would just never happen. Well guess what? It’s starting to happen. It’s a new day in Oceanside.”
Longtime locals know that the space that houses the Oceanside Marketplace was the home of a Value Fair variety store in the 60s and 70s, and later it served as offices for the State of California’s Economic Development Department.