It was a familiar scene at 24th and York Streets this afternoon around 2 p.m. The sun was hot and the sky clear blue. The Mayan dancers were there in their traditional dress, and many of the large signs and banners were recognizable from protests past. Erick Arguello of Calle 24 could be seen handing out flyers to those who had started to gather at the intersection. Tommi Avicolli Mecca showed up carrying his signature curly hair, newsboy cap, and canvas tote, ready to get the masses riled up for the anti-evictions protest that was about to happen.

Waiting for the protest to start.

Eventually hundreds of people appeared to walk down 24th and then Mission to the 16th Street BART plaza, where a community rally would culminate the days’ events. The message of this 85-degree, Saturday march was that the city should stop plans for the 350-unit development at the 16th Street BART plaza and people should vote Yes on Proposition G, which will be on this November’s ballot and make it more difficult for developers to flip multi-unit properties by imposing a surcharge.

If you live in the Mission, you have likely seen this scene every now and again. The route stayed on course, and the chants of “Our Mission, No Eviction” ebbed and flowed. There was a routine aspect to it all, and even the news helicopters, which sometimes fly overhead of these sorts of events, had seemed to lose interest. “I guess they are all at that Bluegrass festival,” said Leila Mansur of the Radio Habana Social Club.

Everyone who showed up largely had the same motive: support the longtime Mission residents who are fighting tooth and nail to keep their homes in the neighborhood. But not everyone was talking about the same thing during the roughly two hours it took to get from 24th and York to 16th and Mission.

One pair of middle-aged female friends inspected each other for signs of a sunburn before taking off with the crowd down 24th Street. The conversation quickly turned to vacation rentals.

“Where are you going?,” asked the friend with a short, greying bob and eye glasses that turn into sunglasses in the daylight.
“Farther south than I wanted. I like to be up north near the hot springs. Where we are going is towards the south of Mammoth Lakes,” replied the woman wearing a visor and red Keen sandals. Next, the conversation changed to a mutual friend’s divorce.

Throughout the crowd, there’s gossip galore. One young group of friends could be heard talking about someone who had fallen in love in Barcelona. Sometimes, the gossip is political.

“He gets up close to my face and says ‘Do you want my endorsement or not?’” one woman in a flowered blouse tells another woman of a recent political meeting at City College. She continues to rant about the man who affronted her, while the other patiently listens, clearly looking to get out of the conversation but stuck there for the time being.

Meanwhile, Brendan Furley, who teaches at Lincoln High School, looked on at the crowd passing with his wife and baby daughter. The two adults studied one of the many signs that read “No Monster in the Mission” with a picture of the proposed development at the 16th Street BART Plaza. They wondered which corner of the street it would be on.

“Is it going to be above the Walgreen’s?,” Brendan asked.

Back in the middle of the crowd, Linda Ray complained about her back pain–something anyone who has walking in a long procession of people knows well–to Arla S. Ertz. The two had met four years ago because they are in the same union and had run into each other today.

“I used to work as a public health nurse in the Mission, and I was wondering how many people I used to see have had to leave,”  said Linda, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1973.

“We always run into each other,” Arla, a social worker, said.

“You do run into people you know, but it’s not the reason I come,” Linda chimed in.

While walking along Mission, near the intersection of 22nd, a group of young kids with nose rings could be heard exclaiming profanities.

“We were talking about nothing that can be put in the newspaper,” one girl laughed when asked to share their conversation.

Everyone wanted to seem like they are talking about the issues at hand, but, in reality, the conversations were as eclectic as those one might hear at birthday party or in a crowded restaurant.

Two SFUSD teachers talked about their eye care.

“You know, glasses and contacts,” said Terycka Garcia, a teacher at San Francisco Community School. “I don’t have anymore contacts, so I was asking him where he gets his with our insurance,” Terycka said, pointing to her friend Pablo Portillo, a teacher at Fairmount Elementary.

“We were talking about our friends, Prop G, and how we are going to get our homework done. Oh, and how hot it is!,” said Julia Hernandez, a senior at San Francisco State University who was walking with her friend Abdul Sarkar, a sophomore.

“I was explaining the breakdown of Prop G to him,” Julia continued as the march approached the 16th Street BART Plaza.

Just as it was on the street, the atmosphere there was peaceful and friendly. No one seemed particularly riled up and most attendees only half listened to those who had taken over the megaphone for a few quick stump speeches before the bands started to play. A young woman who identified herself as an intern with Housing Rights wandered around asking people to sign her petition for Prop G. Most politely obliged, and one man went as far as making a vague David and Goliath reference.

Most seemed worried about where to get water and concentrated on the food, of which there was plenty.

“We were talking about how I used to live on 15th and Capp Street right across from Marshall Elementary,” said Leila Mansur while holding a plate of said food. “They only cleaned up that corner when luxury condos came in. The school wasn’t enough to get that cleaned up.”
“But right before you came over, we were talking about the food. It’s so healthy!,” she exclaimed, showing off the kale, melon, and black beans on her paper plate.

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Andra Cernavskis is a student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. She is Canadian by birth but grew up in New Jersey and then San Francisco's Miraloma neighborhood. She has also spent time in Toronto, Buffalo, and Montreal. The Mission is one of her favorite neighborhoods, and she is thrilled to be back reporting in San Francisco.

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29 Comments

  1. Glad everyone had a nice time. But I think the protests themselves are misguided. This building will increase overall housing supply, and also includes below market rate housing and new facilities for the school next door. It will also help decrease crime on this very dangerous corner of the mission.

    1. The fact that there was no real focus, passion or drive in this protest shows that those involved have largely accepted the inevitability of the the neighborhood continuing to upgrade.

      It’s rather like a group of college friends having a reunion. The faces, the beer and the music are alls till there, but somehow the poignancy and energy no longer is.

      Protesters are the real one percent. The other 99% of us are too busy living our lives to engage in meaningless gatherings.

      1. Wrong. Every bit of publicity helps. Called grass-roots politics. Yes on Prop. G. See how that works?

        1. No, Russo, I don’t see how it “works” because I see new condo towers going up everywhere and a huge increase in the local quality and standard of living.

          1. Yeah because there’s a real correlation between condo towers and an increase in the local quality and standard of living. Who is benefiting? It was such a meaningless gathering you chose to express your opinion. You only strengthen our movement for economic and social justice.

    2. Your blind faith in the market is about as misguided as your belief that the building condo’s will somehow benefit the students of the school. There is no evidence that building these condos will reduce crime.

  2. These people are so unbelievably selfish ! They have theirs and they will be dammed if anyone one else can have a place in the mission, even if they can afford it on their own means, rather than through “coersed life time tenancies” gained via segregated rent control.

    1. Bob Evans… down on the farm…clueless jabber… what are you a developer? LMAO. sacate bob.. go be soulless on your farm. build anywhere don’t build here.. kids and schools and culture..pride. mission pride, you know nothing about, and that is the whole problem with the idiocy of these posts. Protesting is in fact making a big difference here in the Mission lately..check your facts. the real 1% . whaaat? yet you have time to criticize here? yeah, okay , go do something important now.

    2. The selfish ones are those that seek to live in luxury condos knowing that this will displace long term low income tenants, struggling small businesses AND put a PERMANENT shadow over the playground of the local school. Those with more money have more choices. Low income families cant just pick up and move. I wish the article would have reported about the important issues instead of peoples random conversations. Also, PROP G is a response to the speculative nature of the Real Estate market which caters to the notorious flippers and other “buyers” who have no interest in the communities or even in becoming serious and responsable landlords. If the market forces were fair and cared about neighborhood stability, then there would be no need for Prop G.
      The consruction of condos or higher income residents has no bearing on future crime rates. In fact, Twin Peaks has a very high rate of car break ins.

      1. Both of them sound completely hysterical and irrational. (Like, let’s just not allow wealthier people to buy homes in SF, and let poor people live in them instead.) Not even worth responding to them. And Terri, good job posting your email address for everyone to see…bird brain.

    1. Where in the article does it say they were unemployed? I see quoted several school teachers, a restaurant worker, a social worker, an intern, two college students… Oh, I get it: you didn’t read the article.

  3. ML has provided no link or discussion about Prop G, so I’m pasting below a quick summary of it from Ballotpedia.com

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The San Francisco Ballot Simplification Committee provided the following digest for Proposition G:[1]

    THE WAY IT IS NOW:

    The City collects a transfer tax on sales of most real property in San Francisco. The tax rate depends on the sale price of the property. The lowest tax rate is 0.5%, for property sold for $250,000 or less. The highest tax rate is 2.5%, for property sold for $10,000,000 or more. The tax rate is not affected by how long a property is owned.

    THE PROPOSAL:

    Proposition G would impose an additional tax on the total sale price of certain multi-unit residential properties that are sold within five years of purchase or transfer. The following table shows the tax rates that would apply:

    Length of Time Seller Has Owned Property – Tax Rate:

    Less than one year – 24 percent

    One to two years – 22 percent

    Two to three years – 20 percent

    Three to four years – 18 percent

    Four to five years – 14 percent

    This additional tax would apply to sales occurring on or after January 1, 2015.

    This additional tax would not apply in the following circumstances:

    The property is a single-family house or condominium and does not include an in-law unit;
    An owner of the property, including a tenancy-in-common unit, has used it as a primary residence for at least one year immediately before the sale;
    The property contains more than 30 separate residential units;
    The property is sold for an amount equal to or less than what the seller paid for the property;
    The property is sold within one year of a property owner’s death;
    The property is legally restricted to low- and middle-income households;
    The property is newly built housing;
    The property meets the following criteria: it contains no more than two dwelling units; the seller applied on or before July 1, 2014, for a building permit for a project with a total construction cost of $500,000 or more; and the last permit was issued no more than a year before the sale of the property; or
    The sale of the property is exempt from the existing transfer tax.

    This measure would also authorize the Board of Supervisors to create additional exemptions from both the existing transfer tax and this proposed additional tax for properties that are subject to affordability-based restrictions.

    A “YES” VOTE MEANS: If you vote “yes,” you want the City to impose an additional tax of between 14% and 24% on the total sale price of certain multi-unit residential properties that are sold within five years of purchase or transfer, subject to certain exceptions.

    A “NO” VOTE MEANS: If you vote “no,” you do not want the City to impose this additional tax.

    1. Thanks for posting, Schlub. Funny how the facts don’t match the claims on the mailers I’ve gotten from the “No on G” campaign.

    1. This comment is a classic example of how easily misled people are. This “research” is deeply flawed and meanigless. How many of these units are rented out? All of them? None of them? Maybe fifty percent? No one knows. The owners could even be living there and using a different address for taxes or a PO box. The conclusions drawn are specious at best. I hope you were looking in the mirror when you typed “you effing brainwashed idiot.”

      1. Thank you for the clarity, Run. I mean it. We’re being eradicated here in San Francisco. The whole city is being destroyed before our eyes by the greediest vermin on the planet. I wish the article had more rebellious “balls” to it instead of recording a bunch of idle jabber. This is SF’s “last stand”, in case you haven’t noticed. The Mission is almost totally “toast”, and our putatively ‘progressive’ misleaders haven’t done a thing to stop what’s happening.

  4. So, exactly what was the point of the article? The tone sounded like people werent mad enough because we were talking about other things. Can i let you in on a secret? Most of us have to work more than full time in order afford to live here and if we meet up with friends at marches and talk about other aspects of our lives its because we dont get to see eachother much anymore. Also, try being energetic in 90 degree weather, it was a day for Ocean Beach, so if we went to the march instead its because we knew it was important.

  5. Nice protest. I know they need to be uncompromising in their demands to make their point but no more evictions ever and no market rate construction seem a little over the top. The failure of their demands is not realizing “Affordable” housing is really just “Subsidized” housing. Whether by a long term landlord with rent controlled rents or BMR units by a market rate owner. You can’t have one without the other. It would be great to see this group mobilize and push for solutions for the two work better together, that would probably mean reforming rent control into stabilization so the ones that really need it benefit and pushing hard for the city to build BMR housing.

    1. Yes. It is not realistic to demand a lifetime of subsidized housing and to expect property owners and developers to bear this burden. Rent control definitely needs to be reformed. Slowing market rate development will only make the housing shortage worse.

      1. Au contraire. We need MUCH MORE rent control, and we need the “tech twitocracy” taxed and taxed and taxed until they run for the hills. This town is a dull dump filled with materialistic idiots now, when before it was a mecca of free thought, love, and truth seekers.

  6. I enjoyed the protest. I was happy to see the band touring the neighborhood…a real positive, contributory vibe. More interesting than a lot of other things going on in the mission.

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