Calle 24 – Distinct, Changed & Now A Special District

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve Calle 24 as a special district akin to Chinatown.

While the designation carries no special restrictions,  it means that when items come before the Planning Commission, the district’s Latino Cultural designation will come into play.

Already, however, much has changed.

Jaime Maldonado, the owner of La Victoria bakery, and Louie Gutierrez, the owner of La Reyna bakery, talked with Mission Local about the neighborhood’s unique characteristics and how it has changed. They have a lot in common. They both bake colorful conchas and pan dulces in the businesses they took over from their parents. Each face the same challenges of the changing business landscape in the Mission.

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25 Comments

  1. Old Mission Neighbor

    Both of these guys seem to have good heads on their shoulders and I wish them the best.

    I live within a few blocks of La Reyna bakery. From what I can tell by walking by it daily for 2+ years, I think that place needs to change its business model fast.

    I rarely see more than 1 or 2 people inside, and the place isn’t inviting at all. No decoration, dirty, poorly-lit, etc. If Louie owns the retail space, he should sell. If he’s renting, I hope he gets it together soon or he won’t be here long.

    La Victoria, for what it’s worth, seems to be doing really well.

    • sfwom1

      I agree with Old Mission. I don’t shop at La Reina because the food in the windows looks old and therefore unappealing. The shop is dark and looks dirty. I take my kid to La Victoria after school several times a week instead. I’m writing this as constructive criticism because I want La Reina to thrive.

  2. Mel

    I like the pan dulce at La Reyna that comes fresh out of the oven, which is usually in the middle of the day. It’s a nice place to go with my kids for a treat. I wish they would have a sign that says what the schedule is for fresh baked pan dulce. I’m not a fan of the stuff that sits in the window. In general though – I think it’s really telling that Louie only talks about having Latino clients. Only 40% live in the neighborhood… the other 60% of his (Latino) clients come from outside the neighborhood, and maybe once a week, etc.. Guess what… I’m one of your clients – have lived in the neighborhood for 15 years – but I’m not Latino. La Reyna has a broader clientele than they think they do here in the neighborhood – if they want them, that is.

    • Stefan

      Mel – I think you mis-heard Mr. Guttierez – who specifically was talking about the displacement of his Latino customers, and didn’t pay attention to the context of this piece which is the organized community and political effort to preserve the Latin@ cultural history (and it’s pnn dulce I hope!) of Calle 24.

      • Mel

        Thanks for your comment Stefan. I understand the context of the piece and the broader context of what is happening (what has been happening for many years) in my neighborhood. I guess I was reacting to his statement that “our clients are not here any more” with the not very well worded suggestion that his non-Latino clients are here, and that perhaps figuring out how to get more new clients to patronize his business would help preserve his business, and therefore pan dulce, and some of the Latin cultural history that is at risk.

  3. Bob

    Will this drive rents even higher? I would not be surprised if this eventually leads to a Disney-fied Latino zone, like North Beach, with tour buses to follow. Careful what you wish for.

    • John

      Yes, it isn’t clear to me why having a Hispanic theme park in our midst benefits anyone.

      And it is even more baffling given that the Hispanic occupation of the Mission is a relatively recent phenomenon, and that it was an Irish/Italian neighborhood for much monger. Yet that apparently is unworthy of designation.

      • chente

        Well John many people moved into the Mission because they enjoy the Latino flavor such as foods – taquerias, pupuserias, pan dulce, arts, Carnival, Mission Cultural Center, Die De Los Muertos, drumming, samba dance classes, murals, I could go on and on and on. The Irish and Italians left the neighborhood for the avenues to BUY homes. So they didn’t stay and build a culture here. Latinos wanted to stay and built this community to what it is today and why so many come to live here and are adding to the culture as well. If it wasn’t true, they wouldn’t be coming. AND ,the city wouldn’t see the value in helping preserve some of what people are coming for. 300,000 come for Carnival,tens of thousands for other events as well.

        • marcos

          San Francisco was my second choice on where to bail out of Texas to after taking my BA in political science and Latin American Studies. Mexico City was the first, but it was difficult to find tech work in DF during the pre-internet era.

          But when I drove my 1970 Datsun truck down Mission Street, it reminded me of Guatemala City and I decided that this was the place that I needed to be and here I’ve been since just before the earthquake.

        • Orddu

          Speaking as someone who is descended from Mission Irish (I live down the block from where my great-great Grandparents lived), it’s true this was a heavily Irish (and Italian) neighborhood)

          But yeah- it’s also really true that they left for points west and further down the peninsula. Today, the traces of Irish immigrant culture are hardly discernible. Original McCarthys, some of the funeral homes in the Mission, and St. Peters are some of the only sites I can think of that have origins in Irish immigrant culture. (And of course, Original McCarthys is gone.)

          Having said that, I have often thought that it would be nice to see a mural in the Mission acknowledging this part of The Mission’s history. There’s room to share. I don’t see the designation of Calle 24 as an impediment to something like that at all.

        • chente

          Well Johma I have spoken to many people who have said they moved here because they liked the culture, art, food and events. I guess we hang out in different circles than and I will tell the truth as I have experienced it.

      • marcos

        That is the sad part, by the time something is made into a historical district, it is pretty much an admission that it is almost if not totally over. This might make it somewhat more difficult for the worst development plans moving forward.

  4. Carlos Barón

    Missionlandia is coming next! To make this “cultural corridor” a more concrete reality and not jut a token gesture, The City should begin by giving ownership of sites such as The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts to the people who have been running it for over 35 years, yet they still do not own the building.

  5. jose vargas

    Hola como estan yo bien saludos

  6. kellog64

    why do all the celebrants surrounding La Lorraine look so sad?

  7. Louie

    24th Street has been a diverse place for many cultures , who at one time controlled the commerce of this area. In the past decades it has been the Latino who has shepherded this endeavor. The community lived in run down, paint peeling, infested, not up to code living conditions BUT Latinos were not the owners of these buildings ,there is a word they call them slumlords, and when the Mission began to get rid of …the Army Street Projects, Valencia Garden Projects there was a new view of a once “troubled” neighborhood. You began to see speculators, investors families and professionals wanting to move into the Mission. Many because of its convenience to transportation. Our bakery served a community need and the majority of our customers were Latinos.
    At One time there was seven bakeries who could make a living from selling Pan dulce along 24th street. Some did better than others as a result of their proximity to Churches, schools, parks, other stores. That is not the reality anymore. Some of those bakeries have remodeled others gone out of business.
    Housing is the biggest issue, Latinos cannot afford to pay half of their below wage income to live in the Mission and most who left were either bought out, evicted, worried they were going to be evicted and beat the owner to the punch and moved out.
    Also your negative comments toward our business for what ever reason you feel it is constructive are why people don’t feel welcome. We have been in business since 1965 when it cost $1 for 20 breads, we started in a migrant farm worker town in the San Juaquin Valley. So we understand business and are not apologizing for not having thousands of dollars to renovate our business. My parents have endured as immigrants and have provided for their family in that grungy place you describe us as calling a bakery.
    And even latinos may agree with you or you may be latino but sabes que this is our 37th year and we see businesses everyday go out of business because non Latinos don’t shop at their stores. So don’t worry we are human and yes your negative feed back does make us wonder about you all. But like I said we understand it is not just non Latinos who think the way you do but they call it gentrification not barrio warfare.

  8. Native

    One thing to remember, that a special use district will be formed as another layer of protection for the Latino Cultural District. This is what will have the teeth and protections. Like Chinatown and Japantown. This is happening very soon. These cultural district are formed by communities becase of the lack of recognition and acknowledgement of general society and the city. If this was the case we would not be creating these districts.

    Unfortunately diversity is not given. This is the way of keeping the diversity of the city.

    Coming soon Filipino Town in Soma, LGBT Leather District in SOMA and the African American Cultural District in Bay View.

    • John

      Native, a single-race designation of a neighborhood where half the residents belong to another race is the exact opposite of encouraging diversity. It encourages a mono-culture.

      • native

        You missed the point. If this is not done then it would be a white monoculture.

      • marcos

        Racists fear taking what they’ve dished out.

        • John

          Now it’s racist to oppose an ethno-centric theme park designation?

          I have news for you. most racism in modern America is directed at whites, not by them.

          • marcos

            And you hold up so well bearing the white man’s burden. How do you make up and out of bed, not to mention through the day?

          • marcos

            In the US, white people are not subject to racism.
            This does not mean that white people are good or bad, it means that we were raised steeped in racist privilege.

            What to do about it, of course, is another matter entirely.

          • marcos

            Now you’re just making shit up for the sake of trolling.

          • marcos

            “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
            “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
            “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

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