Stabilizing Mission Families Against the Loss of Community-Serving Businesses

Now several years into San Francisco’s dire gentrification and displacement crisis, we remain united in our commitment to finding solutions to keep the Mission home to businesses that serve working-class families and play a crucial role in keeping the Mission a Latino cultural hub.

It is imperative that we stem the loss of the Mission’s family-friendly retail shops that serve the Latino community. We are losing our laundromats, grocery stores, and other critical small businesses that support our working-class Latino families with affordable, essential goods and services, and the continued loss of these businesses contributes to the ongoing displacement of our families from the neighborhood.

Since the year 2000, 8,000 Latinos have been displaced from the Mission District — that’s over 25 percent of our community. The City’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office forecast in an October 2015 report that if current trends continue the Mission would lose an additional 8,000 Latinos by 2025.

A key part of reversing this trend is addressing the current pattern of retail loss in our neighborhood. This begins with recognizing the different impacts between the budget-friendly, local-serving businesses that support our working-class families versus the impacts of high-priced, destination businesses which attract residents from across the city and tourists from around the globe. These destination businesses act as a catalyst for increased displacement pressures on surrounding family-friendly shops through the higher price points they command and the increased rent pressures that follow.

As such, we cannot allow the entire Mission commercial space to become saturated with destination businesses at the expense of our family-serving shops, as happened on neighboring Valencia Street. Even Valencia Street retail is now suffering because too many bar, restaurant and other destination conversions have overrun the corridor, and the merchants association is now resisting further retail conversions.

Further steps are needed at this time to address the Mission’s ongoing loss of community-serving retail shops. These steps should include:

  • The Mission’s Interim Controls on new restaurant conversions, ending January 2018, should be retained permanently in order to continue a healthy oversight of any further retail space conversion.
  • Enforcement mechanisms for restaurants need to be strengthened, ensuring these businesses do not circumvent Mission alcohol regulations in order to operate what are essentially “bars.”
  • Increased business, zoning and housing protections are needed for our central, local-serving commercial corridors of 24th and Mission streets, to keep our working families in place.
  • Additional funding and policy mechanisms to increase community ownership of commercial properties.

Recognizing these and other critical issues facing the Mission, the community has been working with the City to develop plans for neighborhood stability through Mission Action Plan 2020 (MAP2020). This comprehensive work has already led to some gains, as we have collectively helped businesses not just survive, but thrive. An example is Elite Sports, which received pro bono legal assistance to securing an affordable, long-term commercial lease. Also, the small venture received assistance with its Legacy Business Application – helping this long-term, family-friendly business to remain in its current Mission Street location.

The community remains committed to a vision of a Mission that includes working-class families, remains a welcoming home to the Latino community and continues to be a place of opportunity for immigrants. Ensuring this happens means sustaining the budget-friendly businesses that support our working-class families, and finding ways to thoughtfully mitigate the potential impacts of new business conversions that may contribute to their displacement.

We urge city officials and community members to work together to put the much needed solutions in place that will keep our families — and the small businesses that serve them in the Mission — around for generations to come.

Erick Arguello
President, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District

Luis Granados
Executive Director, Mission Economic Development Agency

Carlos Solόrzano-Cuadra
CEO, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce San Francisco

Roberto Hernandez
Founder, Our Mission No Eviction

Maria Victoria Castro
Executive Director, La Raza Centro Legal

Spike Kahn
Director, Pacific Felt Factory

Rick Hall
Coordinator, Cultural Action Network