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Olvera Street Church Slams City For Lockout Over Lease Talks

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A battle between church and state is underway in the heart of Los Angeles.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports members of the historic La Plaza church on Olvera Street say city officials are resorting to dirty tactics amid negotiations for a new lease.

Church member Leonara Barron accused the city of delivering a low blow by locking the congregation of their church.

“Basically, we have to call security and if they decide they let us in,” Barron said.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the district in which the church resides, was perplexed by the city’s actions.

“It doesn’t make sense to me as to why the management at El Pueblo [the department that manages the historic site] would lock this congregation out of a church,” Huizar said.

Since learning of the lockout, Huizar introduced a motion that has since been approved by the council to give members access to the church while lease talks resume.

The councilman says the real issue is how much the church should pay in rent: they had been paying just one dollar per year.

Still, Huizar doesn’t expect the church to be going anywhere in the near future.

“This church will be in that location,” Huizar said.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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