"Ghetto Frida"is on display outside Galería de la Raza through Aug. 10.

Galería De La Raza, regarded by many as the foremost pillar of the Latino art scene in San Francisco, is being forced out of its location of 46 years after receiving a major rent hike.

“Unfortunately, in June 2018, we received notice of a 100% rent increase, effective August 2018 for the space we are currently occupying,” reads a statement sent out by the gallery on Friday. “Through the summer we were able to negotiate with the property manager to maintain our tenancy at our current rental rates but moving forward have to forgo” the main gallery space at 2857 24th Street.

For now, it will primarily operate out of its Studio 24 space, next door at 2851 24th Street, a significantly smaller venue.

It’s unclear how much the landlord, listed in public records as Lily Ng, is asking for, and how much the gallery was paying before the hike. Ani Rivera, the gallery’s director, declined to comment on the specifics on their rental agreement.

“At the moment, we don’t want to share specific amounts as we are still negotiating the new rent scenario with the property manager,” she wrote in an email. “I can confidently say that the proposed increase essentially doubled our rent.”  

The gallery had been paying its rent month-to-month since the time it moved into the space at 24th and Bryant, two years after being founded in 1970 at 14th and Valencia streets. Over that period of time, representatives from the gallery said, the gallery attempted to “change the arrangement with the landlord to a more stable agreement for Galería and the community.”

But the economic circumstances of the city’s rental market would not allow it, they said.

Instead, the gallery is working to raise money and forge a deal with the Mission Economic Development Agency and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation to rent, and potentially eventually purchase, ground-floor space at the nonprofit developers’ forthcoming 1990 Folsom project — a fully affordable 143-unit building slated to break ground in February 2019.

Already the gallery has hosted outdoor events at 1990 Folsom, which right now is an empty lot.

In the 1970s, Galería De La Raza served as a unifying force for the Chicano civil rights movement, and a backbone of the Latino arts explosion of that era. It has since turned into a hub for community and youth programming. Whether this will continue in the much-smaller adjunct space remains to be seen. 

“For the Board and Staff, coming to this decision was not easy,” a statement reads. “Our priority has been to be responsive to our communities’ needs and desires, which include that long-standing cultural institutions, such as Galería, remain in the Mission District and continue to offer and expand its local and world-renowned community-based programming.”

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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31 Comments

  1. a MEda owned building is probably where they should be. I’m guessing they want below market rates since they are “serving the community”.

    Interesting they are fine saying they received a 100% increase, but don’t want to say the actual monthly rent. This is because even with the 100% increase, it’s still below market rate. If it were above market or even at Market rate, they would gladly tell the press so the community can start protesting this landlord.

    Something a reporter could add to this piece is the going rate for a similar square foot space in this area. What are the going rates? What would a new art gallery, restaturant, barber shop, etc…. need to pay for that similar space if they were to start up today? Do we want millenials to be able to start companies and compete with these baby boomers or do we prefer to favor the oldsters????

    1. Don’t mean to be captain obvious here but, a 100% rent increase, even if it’s still below market rate is a death blow for a Cultural institution.

      1. Excellent point. Galería offers a unique value to the community that needs to be retained in the Mission & City.

    2. So easy to see this as about age, but I believe that this gallery displays and promotes plenty of young artists.

    3. There is no market rate you silly capitalist apologist. The storefronts are empty. Greedy landlords charge whatever they like.

    4. You actually believe a greedy landlord is going to leave 100 percent on the table for any amount of time? lol!

    5. Perhaps there is space in Mexican American museum at Fort Mason? Or perhaps SoMarts, they have tons of space.

    6. “The oldsters”? What planet do you live on? You’re obviously not part of the Mission community or you’d know the Galeria is loved by and serves all age groups.

      1. Michael, when I say “Oldsters” I was referring to the business. Due to prop 13 and rent control, businesses that have been around longer than others have lower rents and taxes. This makes it harder for newcomers to set up shop. If a new art gallery wanted to move in, they would have to pay more than an art gallery that has rent control or a lower tax bill due to prop 13. It’s an unfarir playing field is all I am saying. This means any new business has to generate MORE renevue than an old business. It’s no wonder new businesses are trying to go high end. They are forced to.

        I think if this art gallery serves a greater purpose and cannot survive on their own, it would be a perfect thing for MEDA and other non-profits to subsidize. It’s unfortunate, but we need to hold businesses and non-profits accountable. If they cannot adjust with the times, they either need to close shop or ask for handouts. I just think these handouts should be from grants and non-profits and not from a mom and pop landlord.

        It’s not the job of landlords to subsidze the businesses they rent to. If this were a liquor store, a high end purse shop, or a jewelry store, no one would say they need to be saved. The fact that this is a Latino art gallery is the issue.

        What you are not seeing is that this deters landlords from renting to non-profits. If they think in 20-30 years the non-profit has the ability to get the community activist involved, they would prefer to take a little less and deal with an actual capitalist business. Liberals tend to not look very far forward……. Landlords think 30-50 years out.

          1. Sorry, you are correct about rent control and prop 13 on renters so that part of my comment is totally off base and stupid. Thanks for letting me know.

        1. You really do not understand the laws in SF, as mentioned, there is not commercial rent control. Prop 13 has nothing to do with a commercial renters rent on an old building likely paid for decades ago.
          Please take your market lectures elsewhere if you do not even have a clue of the rules.

    7. For an NON PROFIT ART GALLERY struggling to preserve some culture in the current SF techie nightmare, doubling rent is a death blow. How could it not be? Greedy landlords are ruining the neighborhood. So sad.

  2. the spite and contempt from commenters is disgusting. picking on an art gallery because it’s not politically correct.

  3. Nonprofits are damned no matter what in a gentrifying neighborhood. Either the landlord raises the rent on you and you can’t afford it, or you actually own the building and then people note that you are sitting on a multimillion dollar piece of property and wouldn’t that money be better used supporting artists, the indigent, the environment, etc while you move somewhere else cheaper?

  4. What can the community do to help? Can we protest the increase? Can we produce an event with artists and politicians to stop this? Please let me know?- Manny Martinez

  5. In other news, yesterday the Planning Commission (quietly) approved the Conditional Use Permit for Mr. Tillman’s proposed housing development at 2918 Mission.

    The Commission ultimately realized — unlike Supervisor Ronen and the BOS (operating like lemmings beholden to so-called “Supervisorial Perogative”) that to disapprove the project was most certainly a violation of State Law.

    Mr. Tillman’s day in court will be sometime in the 1st quarter of 2019.

    He will, of course, prevail and due to Ronen’s malfeasance and illegal behavior, we, the taxpayers, will have to foot the considerable bill.

  6. A business’ legacy status is not something that the city applies willy-nilly. The business must apply for it.

  7. Enough about “greedy” landlords. Landlords are just small business owners themselves. City subsidization? That’s another story.

  8. Time for MEDA to step up and offer them prime ground floor commercial space in one of their upcoming developments at the gallery’s original 1970’s rent amount.

  9. Maybe Galeria de la Raza should move to New York City, like I just did. Hard to believe, but there are many more affordable options here. Greedy California homeowners have blocked construction of sufficient housing units to retain middle income residents. The views, landscapes, and property values will be protected, but only to be enjoyed by the tech elites! Farewell, my colorful and diverse Mission. And good luck, Galeria de la Raza.

  10. This is a good article, clear and concise. Thanks for writing it. The issue of community organizations being priced out is very timely in this election cycle, with Prop C and Prop 10 being the most important issues of the race.

  11. Too bad that over the 48 years (576 months) that the Galeria de la Raza has been paying rent in the Mission District, its board of directors did not make an attempt to raise the money to purchase its own space. It would have been interesting to see if the community it is serving would have backed the Galeria’s campaign to raise the money. Of course the bulk of the funding would have to have come from major national funding sources. And that takes a lot of work. In contrast, The Mexican Museum own its own space and is thriving. Its board of directors must have been quite savy, vision-minded, and alert to the precariousness of community arts organizations. It is never too late to start a capital campaign.

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