Tomorrow (Sat/12 at 2pm) advocates and defenders of working class San Francisco will march to protest a rash of recent Mission evictions, including the potential ouster of artists and activists Rene Yañez and Yolanda Lopez from their Mission district home.
The organizers want the mayor to declare a state of emergency in the city as the recent Ellis Act evictions have intensified — 125 Ellis Act eviction notices have been filed this year, with the most recent numbers going to the end of August, according to the SF Rent Board. But 175 requests for Ellis Act evictions were filed, meaning 70 percent of Ellis evictions were upheld. The march follows recent wins against gentrification, including blocking a Jack Spade store from opening in the Mission.
Organizer Roberto Y. Hernandez said that since he announced the march he’s been getting calls of support from all over the city, but most notably in Chinatown, the Bayview, and the Castro.
“I heard horror stories of what’s happening to the gay community in the Castro,” he said. “This doesn’t just affect the Mission, this affects the whole city.”
Each of those evictions represents a person or family whose ouster from their apartments may mean ouster from San Francisco altogether. Ellis evictions gained more notoriety this year, first with the plight of the Lee family and now the ouster of Mission artists Yañez and Lopez.
Yañez is widely credited with bringing the celebration of Day of the Dead to the city. He co-founded the Mission’s Galeria de la Raza and practiced art in his home of the Bay Area since the 60s. Now, while suffering from cancer, the 71 year old is being forced from the neighborhood he helped to shape. Lopez, his former wife, is an artist with deep roots in the Chicano/a movements of the ‘60s, and is facing eviction as well.
After 35 years in their home, the artists face the same plight as the Lee’s and even San Francisco’s local nonprofits — ouster in the face of the tech boom’s ever rising rents.
Rene Yañez’s son Rio is an established artist in his own right and rents a unit in the same building. Rio faces the same Ellis Act eviction as his father.
In an open letter to Yañez and the community, artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña wrote, “Rene, you are my artistic godfather and needless to say, you are an icon; the artistic Capo of the Bay Area Chicano movement…Our city has become a bohemian theme park for consumer fools with the latest gadgets in hand, but what happens when there are no more bohemians left?”
Juan Gonzalez, the founding publisher of the Mission’s local newspaper, El Tecolote, said that Yañez’s ouster from the neighborhood is part of a larger context.
“He’s a leading force, someone who puts his energy in making the city aware that Latinos are here and here to stay,” he said. And of the Mission’s slow but brutal gentrification, “It’s not right. There’s always going to be change, but to see this lost — I think the city as a whole will lose. I’m waiting for the city leaders, beyond our supervisors, to use their powers to stop what’s happening.”
One opportunity to call for change will happen tomorrow.
— David Campos (@DavidCamposSF) October 1, 2013
The march for Yañez and Yolanda Lopez, “Our Mission: No Eviction,” will hit the streets Saturday, Oct. 12 at 2pm at the Brava Theater, which is on 24th Street between Hampshire and York. The march will move towards Mission where they’ll hold a rally at the 24th street BART station.
“The mayor was involved in the I-Hotel movement back in the day, when they evicted my Asian brothers and sisters,” Hernandez said. “We’ve got to wake him up. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, but now he’s gotta move, he’s gotta do something.”
Later this month the Brava Theater will have a benefit for the family, and you can learn more about it here.