Mission Street. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Can the city bring more Latinos to shop in the Mission District? The answer will become clearer on Saturday as the city launches a series of events to lure the Bay Area’s Latino population to the neighborhood that still has the highest concentration of Latinos in San Francisco.

The city has already dedicated the Calle 24th Latino Cultural District and is now focusing new efforts on Mission Street.

The events on Saturday include two showings of Selena at the Brava Theater (at 3 p.m. 7:30 p.m.) as well as a Low Rider extravaganza. The slick cars will be on display at 5 p.m. on 24th Street and at 6 p.m. they will cruise along Mission Street between 20th and Cortland.

The campaign is being run by the city’s office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The marketing strategy is “inviting people to come experience a culture that is very unique,” said Diana Bernal Ponce De León, who is spearheading the office’s efforts in the Mission.

The city’s Latino population, now at 15.3 percent, has grown slightly from the 2010 census when it was 15.1 percent. Meanwhile, the Mission District’s Latino population dropped to 39 percent in the 2010 Census, from 50 percent in 2000. However, the Mission remains the neighborhood most densely populated with Latino residents.

E-commerce has threatened the discount stores and other businesses along Mission Street, but Ponce De León and others see an experience in the Mission that cannot be had online. Culture, she said, is the Mission District’s commercial edge and some business owners said they have already benefited from that advantage.

Elida Quijano, who owns a boutique just off Mission Street at 3218 21st St., started her business five years ago – just as the Latino population in the Mission started to take another dive.

No matter, she says. Business has never been better for her store and the baptism, First Communion, quinceañera and wedding packages she offers. Few of her clients are from the Mission, she says, but come from Richmond, San Rafael, San Leandro, Redwood City and Novato to visit her shop.

“This is the good season for us,” she said, because all of her merchandise is in demand.

Elida Quijano, the owner of Cupid. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Other stores along Mission Street that have maintained a long tradition of serving the Latino community include Xodi Jewelry and Gallery at 2250 Mission St., Latin Bridal at 2644 Mission St, Dore Studios at 2442 Mission St. and for the young and hip, Artillery A.G. at 2751 Mission St.

Events on Saturday include:

11am – 12:30 pm | Precita Eyes Muralists | 2981 24th Street
Spanish & English guided mural tour of the 24th Street Corridor and book launch information for “The Mission” photograph book by Dick Evans.

11am – 1pm | Alley CatBooks | 3036 24th Street
Remembering & honoring Mission District artist Michael Roman. All materials provided.

12:30 pm – 2pm | Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission | 3316 24th Street
Dance the afternoon away to the iconic tunes of the Tejana artist. Instructed by Bianca Mendoza. All ages and dance levels welcome!

12:30 – 5 pm | Accion Latina | 2958 24th Street | Harrison Street & 24th Street Plaza
Come support your local Mission District vendors & artists. Information center, kid friendly activities, music, refreshments & more!

5-8 PM | Calle 24 Latino Cultural District
The San Francisco Lowrider Council will cruise up & down the stretch of Mission and 24th Streets all night long in tribute of Selena.

Chicano International Film Festival


Three short Mission Films at Peephole cinema on Orange Alley near 26th Street.

You can find a complete list of all Mission District events here.

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Talk about pandering! As a Latino and Mission resident this is insulting! Stereotypes on display with the showing of Selena and having lowriders on 24th Street. AVOID! AVOID! AVOID! Despicable! Just like city departments. They know nothing about the residents they work for.

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