San Jose Flea Market vendors fearful about their future

On Wednesday, the San Jose Planning Commission is set to vote on new plans for an urban village around the Berryessa BART station. It could impact the historic San Jose Flea Market. Long-time vendors are concerned about their livelihoods.

The transit oriented mixed-use development has been in the works for 20 years. Housing and retail are already built on the north side.

"It’s been a long time coming," said San Jose City Councilmember David Cohen. "It’s certainly exciting to see it be developed."

The focus now is south of Berryessa Road. It’s home to the 60-year-old San Jose Flea Market. The big concern is what will happen to it.

After negotiations, the plan includes five acres for a permanent urban market essentially the San Jose Flea Market reimagined.

"If you consolidate the vendors into an urban type of market environment, we know we can fit a lot of vendors in a more compact space," said Cohen.

"I’ve been here for more than 25 years already, that's just my life," said Rigoberto Gonzales of Los Reyes Dulceria.

Gonzales has been selling Mexican candies and piñatas since 1991. He fears he’ll be pushed out.

"When they start working at the flea market, the construction, where are we going to go?" said Rigoberto Gonzales.

"Is it a market for the vendors who are currently there or is it going to be a gentrified market with the people and vendors they decide?" said Roberto Gonzalez of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association.

San Jose Planning Commissioner Rolando Bonilla said the commission has exhausted its options.

"To me it isn’t the end of the flea market this is the beginning of a new flea market," said Bonilla.

Erik Schoennauer is a land use consultant who represents the Bumb Family, owners of the flea market. He said they’ll try and accommodate all 430 vendors who want to stay. The new urban market is still a few years away.

"No vendor should fear they are going to wake up tomorrow morning and the gates are going to be locked," said Schoennauer. "We would give the vendors a full one year advance notice of any change to the existing flea market."

There are other options like the San Jose Capitol Flea Market. Many vendors don’t want to leave.

"We’ve been here for over 40 years," said Elizabeth Alvarado of Bay Fresh Produce. "We are one of the oldest people here. We have been here the longest."

The plans are still in the early stages. After Wednesday, it will be up to the San Jose City Council to determine if more can be done such as financial support for the vendors who aren’t part of the new flea market plan. It will take at least 10 years to break ground.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or