Immigrants Vs. Tech Workers: San Francisco’s Liberal Turf War Continues
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The New York Times is fascinated with the ongoing cultural squabble in San Francisco, where two liberal groups have squared off over territory. Hispanics residing in the Mission neighborhood are angry that young tech workers are moving into “their” turf and taking scarce and increasingly expensive housing. (See my article from a year ago Liberal Civil War in San Francisco: Immigrants And Hipsters Attack Tech Workers.)

The paper has been there before, calling it the “Backlash by the bay” in 2013, when it surveyed the mix of prosperity and hostility that tech growth has brought to the city.

Below, the Times featured some of the Mission’s famous mural art that complained about gentrification and rising housing costs.

Before the Mexicans arrived in the 1960s, the Mission was populated by Poles and Irish, but the hispanics believe the Mission belongs to them now and techies should keep out.

Make no mistake, California has been slow in shaking off the recession, and it benefits greatly from the tech sector boom in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The state unemployment rate for April was 6.3 percent, worse than the national rate of 5.4 percent.

Despite being a former tenant lawyer, Mayor Ed Lee in 2012 at least visited a tech company every week as a sign of his interest in the ongoing success of the businesses in his town. He wants that tax money to keep flowing into city coffers to keep his big liberal government funded. He is in a politically difficult spot but has made his choice.

Below, another Mission mural, suitable for meditations on diversity or scaring the children.


The piece has quotes from whiney local Hispanics about the Mission being the “heart and soul of San Francisco” including similar blather from Supervisor David Campos, who is not identified as being a former illegal alien. It would be better if they didn’t claim cultural superiority for their colorful gang-infested neighborhood and merely said they don’t want to move, which is more understandable.

Toward the end, there is mention that the hated gentrification has brought “a drop in crime.” Wait, don’t liberals lecture us daily that diversity is 100 percent wonderful and a total improvement over our boring white-bread American lives? Apparently we are permitted to imagine that it’s not.

Gentrification Spreads an Upheaval in San Francisco’s Mission District, New York Times, May 22, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Luxury condominiums, organic ice cream stores, cafes that serve soy lattes and chocolate shops that offer samples from Ecuador and Madagascar are rapidly replacing 99-cent stores, bodegas and rent-controlled apartments in the Mission District, this city’s working-class Latino neighborhood.

As San Francisco has become the preferred bedroom community for Silicon Valley, the Mission, with its urban edginess, has become the hottest location. Close to the center of the city, it has historically been home to Mexican and Central American immigrants whose large families live in small apartments in narrow Victorians and older buildings. Taquerias, bakeries, bars and auto mechanic shops line the streets where Spanish is spoken. Like Chinatown, this distinctive neighborhood helps define San Francisco, but the gentrification — fueled by technology workers and the popularity of Airbnb — is faster and more drastic here than elsewhere.

The local color is still here: Splashy murals, many with political themes, provide open-air art on numerous buildings. But the housing prices have risen well beyond the reach of the average artist: Studio apartments in the Mission are listed on Zillow, the real estate site, for $2,700 a month, and one-bedrooms for $3,800. When a family in a rent-controlled apartment leaves or is forced out, the rent is jacked up to market rate, apartments become condominiums or are advertised by the landlord on Airbnb as a good place for short-term visits.

While gentrification has been a longstanding issue in the Mission, it now seems to be accelerating in its pace and scope.

“It’s a war zone here,” said Paula Tejeda, a Mission resident who owns an empanada shop in the neighborhood, describing the clash between older residents and newer ones. “This is not like the Lower East Side” of Manhattan, where she used to live, she said. “This is happening a lot faster.”

Ms. Tejeda joined hundreds of other Mission residents in a demonstration this month at City Hall, where they held a sit-in in front of the office of Mayor Edwin M. Lee to protest housing prices and the evictions of longtime tenants. But the mayor was not in.

“We are here to save the heart and soul of San Francisco,” said Roberto Hernandez, a community organizer with the group Our Mission No Eviction. He spoke disparagingly of a one-bedroom house in his neighborhood that sold for “$2 million in cash to someone who invented some app.”

Ms. Tejeda said she had fought eviction for 18 months and won the right to stay in her home. But she worries that her empanada shop, Chile Lindo, could be in jeopardy. While it might seem to be good news that a 331-unit apartment building is planned across the street, she said her shop could not endure years of construction and the loss of customers, many of whom she knows well enough to greet with a kiss on the cheek.

“The Mission is ground zero for the fight for the future of San Francisco,” said David Campos, the city supervisor who represents most of the nearly two-square-mile district. “People think San Francisco is an island of progressive thinking,” he said, but San Francisco “has the fastest-growing income inequality of any city in the nation,” he said, citing a Brookings Institution study. “Medium- and low-income people are being left behind,” Mr. Campos said.

Another complaint is that the influx of newcomers is bleaching out the Latino culture that drew them here. “People who come here say, ‘I love these murals,’” Mr. Campos said, adding, “You cannot have the art without the artists. We are losing this neighborhood.”

In one real estate deal that grabbed headlines, Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a doctor at San Francisco General Hospital, paid about $10 million in 2013 for a house on the outskirts of the Mission.

One newly hired Google employee, who was interviewed on a Saturday afternoon while she sipped pho at a Vietnamese restaurant on fashionable Valencia Street in the Mission, said that, with her $100,000-a-year salary, “I can’t afford to live in the Mission.” She lives in the Castro, a gay-friendly neighborhood where rents are not as high, and asked that her name not be printed for fear of retribution. “People get very angry — they blame the tech companies,” she said.

Maximus Real Estate Partners, the developer of the apartment complex across from Chile Lindo, has promised to build or pay for 90 affordable housing units, more than twice the number required by the city. But that has not satisfied some neighbors, who have named it the “monster in the Mission” and complain that those apartments will be too expensive for working-class people. They also fear that the project will spur more gentrification and evictions.

At a meeting in March called by the developer to work with the community, residents shouted down speakers until the event was halted.

A spokesman for Maximus Real Estate, Joe Arellano, said in an interview that the development was intended to attract a mix of residents. “Our proposal is crafted in a way so that income earners who are teachers to police and working professionals can afford to rent or own property in San Francisco,” he said.

Mr. Campos, the neighborhood’s elected city supervisor, also blames the popularity of Airbnb for the changes in the Mission. There are more homes in the Mission advertised on Airbnb than in any other neighborhood in San Francisco.

A study that Mr. Campos requested from the city found that 29 percent of potential rental units in the Mission were listed on Airbnb. A San Francisco law enacted in February limits short-term rentals to 90 days annually.

An Airbnb spokesman, Christopher Nulty, said that his company’s service was not to blame for the demographic changes that anger some Mission residents. “This comes from the same people who want to ban new market-rate housing in the Mission, ban home-sharing and make San Francisco more expensive for middle-class families,” Mr. Nulty said.

Community organizers are fighting tech with tech. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, which tracks evictions citywide, created pages of what it calls “dirty landlords” who evict residents and rehabilitate units into condominiums. Home buyers are encouraged to check an address for a building’s eviction history and to pledge not to deal with eviction properties.

The tension in the community can be viewed on almost every block.

Darwin Zaldana-Velis, who grew up in the Mission, said that of a dozen friends, all but two had left the neighborhood because they could not afford it. A college student who works at a store that sells environmental products, he lives with three generations of his family — four people in all — in a one-bedroom rent-controlled apartment. This month, his landlord increased the rent to $1,700 a month from $1,500 after not raising the rent for several years. “We’re barely surviving,” he said.

Newer residents are grateful for some of the changes gentrification has brought, which include a drop in crime.

“When I moved here, this was a no-go zone,” said Matthew McGraw, founder and chief executive of Rocket Science Consulting, a design and technology company. With his wife, six children and two dogs, he lives in an airy warehouse, which by day is shared with employees.

“I was a big fan of this boom,” Mr. McGraw said. “I’m a part of it,” but, he added, the problems it has created “are not just heating up, they’re exploding.”

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