Mission Residents Discuss Gentrification Fears, Concerns

Last night, about 50 people gathered at Centro Del Pueblo (474 Valencia St.) to discuss concerns about gentrification and the displacement of immigrant and low-income residents from the Mission.

The event was held by United to Save the Mission, a coalition of 15 local organizations. “If we don’t take action now as a community, before you know it, you’re gonna look down Missionand see another Valencia,” said Carlos Bocanegra, program coordinator for La Raza Centro Legal, and an organizer of the event.

“There has to be a balance in everything,” said Bocanegra. “Valencia is a completely inequitable outcome. It lost the historic Latino culture that brought people to the Mission in the first place.”

The meeting focused on soliciting feedback about what the community wants to see in the district. Many spoke in favor of adding more family-owned businesses and expressed disappointment in seeing small merchants priced out of the area.

Jadma Noronha helped facilitate the discussion. 

"What I’ve been seeing is business on Mission Street that’s been there as long as I’ve been living there, closing for whatever reason and those places are empty,” said Pilar Mero, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood who attended with her sister.

Mero also expressed concerns about increasing traffic and how that would impact local schools.

According to RENTCafe, the average rent in the Mission District is now $3,400 per month, compared to $2,600 in 2013.

“That rent is out of reach for many families who live here,” said Bocanegra. "Once a family is evicted and forced to leavethe Mission, forced to leave the city…they’re never coming back."

Beatriz Mero said she and her sister Pilar feel "like strangers" in the neighborhood. "My parents bought their home, that’s the only reason we’re still here," she added.

About 50 people gathered for last night's discussion.

Many acknowledged the inevitability of change but hoped that they could keep the Mission District they know and love.

"I’m okay with change, I understand change happens," said Carlos Camplis, a lifelong resident of the Mission. "I’m concerned about the rapid changes that are happening in the Mission District."

One example of change in the neighborhood that some community members cited is a proposed 10-story, 331-unit condominium development at 1979 Mission, at the corner of 16th andMission streets.

Some community groups have opposed the Maximus Real Estate Partners development due to its size and location near 16th Street BART.

1979 Mission St. | Image: Maximus Real Estate Partners

San Francisco’s Inclusionary Affordable HousingProgram requires developers of residential projects with 10 or more units to pay a fee or provide a percentage of  units at a rate that is affordable for middle and low-income families.

In a 2015 press release, Maximus stated that it would build 49 apartments below market rate at a separate location in the Mission. The website Mission4All, an advertising campaign for theproject, emphasized that this number is “over double the required amount by the city.”

Recently, Maximus has explored other ways to build support for the project, including partitioning a piece of the property and donating it to the city for 100 percent affordable housing, the Chronicle reported.

However, many residents were not convinced.

Beatriz, who lives two blocks from the proposed construction site, expressed concern that "all the small businesses will become condos or high-end business." She compared the changes occurring in the Mission today to the displacement of communities of color in the Fillmore District in the 1960s and '70s.

Community organizer Chirag Bhakta said that he hopes to keep the Mission “welcoming to neighborhood families, low-income folks and immigrants.”

“[I want to] not just preserve, but grow what has made the Mission so desirable for many populations,” said Bhakta. “To find a way to be the example in a gentrified neighborhood that hope remains.”

[Correction: The 1979 Mission project will not be going to a Planning hearing in November, as was previously stated.]

Never miss a story.

Subscribe today to get Hoodline delivered straight to your inbox.