A lot happened in the Mission this year. While we lingered on some of our favorite stories of 2014 on Tuesday, on the last day of the year we take a bigger look at what happened in the last 12 months. We ask: what stories did our readers respond to most? What events shaped the Mission physically, economically, and spiritually? The following 14 stories reflect the big themes and big events that we think left an impact on this always-happening, frequently sunny neighborhood.
A Neighborhood reckons with Homelessness
As rent prices skyrocketed and national conversations around inequality continued, the Mission found itself examining the persistence of homelessness in the neighborhood. Many readers responded to our individual profiles on homeless people, from one couple who came to San Francisco seeking sanctuary but found themselves on the street to story of a 13-year-old without a home. Several people in the neighborhood complained to the police about the ongoing presence of homeless encampments, while one woman took matters into her own hands by inviting a homeless man to stay at her house. Even comedian Margaret Cho got in on the conversation. Jennifer Quinn’s account of the death of a homeless man at the 16th BART plaza made the issue hit home in a very real way.
Tense Talks between Tech and Community
The ongoing conflict, dialogue, or whatever you want to call it (some just said “ugh”) about the impact of tech company employees on pre-existing Mission communities continued on through 2014. A satiric “GMuni” launch event to protest what activists saw as a toothless measure to regulate the buses proved incredibly photogenic (see above), but didn’t sway the SFTMA vote. In somewhat of a new development this year, there were several attempts to get these two differing groups into the same room. Some, like Engage SF’s various dinners, seemed like earnest attempts to establish dialogue, others like the first meeting of Tech Workers Against Displacement ended up as shouting matches. At the end of the year, the fracas over th Mission Playground became a rallying point for many frustrated with what they saw as unnecessary, and hostile displacement at the hands soccer-playing tech company employees.
While the anti-eviction movement both gathered steam and faced losses this year, it did bring attention to several very conflicted landlord/tenant relationships. Perhaps the most high profile is the story of 812 Guerrero and its Google lawyer landlord Jack Halprin, who used the Ellis Act to evict the whole building. With a protest outside the Guerrero house, disruptions at Google I/O, a lawsuit, and another protest, nobody would let Halprin forget about the evictions. There was also the story of German Maldonado, the master tenant accused of siphoning off $41,000 in rent from his subtenants. The story of the Tamale Lady’s struggles as a landlord demonstrated that being a good landlord is no easy task.
Nieto Shooting Brings Police Violence Issue Home
The national conversation about race and violence hit home in the Mission following the officer-involved shooting of Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill in March. At meeting following the incident, you could feel the rage and frustration in the air, a feeling that has persisted at subsequent rallies and protests. While new details from the Medical Examiner’s report and a new witness provided by the Nieto family’s legal team have emerged to complicate the story, the full story of what exactly happened on the hill that day is still unknown. Various investigations are ongoing.
Construction Boom and Its Discontents
Cranes towered above the Mission this year. With roughly 1,900 new housing units proposed for the Mission, changes in the neighborhood grew more in physical stature this year than in recent memory. These developments, of course, were met with the nagging question of: who will these developments house exactly? For projects like the recently approved 490 South Van Ness and the pending project at 16th and Mission Street, opposition was vocal and intense.
Young Lives Ended Too Soon
There’s nothing new about this story, but in 2014 a number of tragic killings of very young people shook the Mission. None of the victims appeared to have anything to do with gangs. Most of the incidents felt highly random. In September, Rashawn Williams, a 14-year-old, and Ronnie Goodman, a 19-year-old, were killed within seven days of each other. Over the same weekend in December, only a few blocks from each other, 26-year-old Camilo Senchyna-Beltran and 25-year-old Casey Bissell were both trying to protect someone else when complete strangers ended their lives. Sadly, these are just some of the young people killed this year in the Mission.
The End of Bars as We Know Them?
It seemed like every month this year had a new story about the imminent closure, the potential closure, or the outright termination of longtime neighborhood watering hole. Esta Noche’s end and the Lexington Club’s owner’s announcement of closure had some asking if this is the end of gay bars? Meanwhile, new ownership and a new vibe at Pops and the Attic’s rehab had others wondering is this the end of dive bars? Many fretted about the fate of the Elbo Room. After a tumultuous year, it looks like the Uptown’s staff have staved off their own demise for some time.
Giants Win, Giant Mess
San Francisco, but the Mission especially, erupted into jubilation when the Giants won the World Series for the third time in five years. But despite, the pleading of this apparent six-year, the celebration wasn’t always pretty. Two people were stabbbed, and one was shot. The next day along Mission Street, businesses and nonprofits alike also paid the cost of the victory.
Local Issues, Big Bucks
This was an election year in which more money was spent than the past three elections combined—a whopping $16,724,644. Over $8 million poured in from the American Beverage Association to halt the soda tax, and opponents of Proposition G raised over $1.4 million to successfully strike down the so-called speculator’s tax, which if passed may have had a big impact. Meanwhile, Mission District Supervisor David Campos squared off against his peer on the Board of Supervisors David Chiu. It was a heated race, though Chiu prevailed with more votes—he also raised roughly three times as much as Campos.
Turmoil in Latin America Felt at Home
In the summer, as an estimated 250 unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America arrived in the Bay Area, local immigrant service organizations that felt firsthand the intense demand. When school started, International High School saw increased enrollment from this refugee population. Corruption and violence in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, prompted many in the Mission to take the streets or create art to urge the government to take action in response to scores of students who went missing. Foreign policy announcements from President Obama at the end of the year proved a mixed bag for many (as with his executive order on immigration) and a blessing for others (as with his plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba).
We’ve Seen Fire, We’ve Seen Rain
In a year of one of California’s worst droughts, the Mission was not without its own extreme weather and elemental catastrophes. In September, a giant 5-alarm fire burst out of the Big House Discount store, sending huge flames into the air and at least four people to the hospital. It was also one of the most well-documented Misson moments this year. The big storefront on Mission Street is still boarded up. More recently, the “hellastorm” flooded various parts of the Mission and left several places without power.
The 23rd Street restaurant of Yaron Milgrom became a Mission District flashpoint this year after one of its servers allegedly refused to seat beloved neighborhood figure Sandy Cuadra at the end of 2013. The restaurant faced charges of racial discrimination and repeated vandalism. After months of tense talks, the activist group ACCE called for an outright boycott of all of Milgrom’s businesses. In November, Milgrom decided to close his restaurant after several years of lagging business.
Viva 24th Street
After a long planning process, 24th Street officially became a cultural corridor, meaning the city will recognize its significance in Latino history and culture. With the unveiling of the newly refurbished Carnaval mural in the fall and a brilliant Carnaval party dancing down its ficus-lined length, 2014 seemed like a good year for 24th Street.
Term of BART
Okay, this one isn’t necessarily the biggest story, but every news outlet needs a hobby horse. For a many glorious weeks of 2014, Mission Local editor-in-chief Lydia Chavez was a frequent thorn in BART’s craw about the constantly malfunctioning elevator at 24th Street. Those escalators (along with the gross, old BART seats) became a burning question here at ML HQ. We take great joy in the recent news that BART is putting covers over its escalators at Powell Street. Let’s hope that in 2015, the transit organization won’t forget about the Mission.