On Thursday afternoon, Mission Street was shut down for a few hours for a March to peacefully protest gentrification. The “March for Mission” which started at 20th and Mission Streets brought together local volunteers and organizations to send a message to City Hall that their voice needs to be heard.
Protesters ended the march at city hall, demanding funding to establish a Latino Cultural Corridor, affordable housing and transit equity. They aim to stop the massive influx of high-end businesses, projects, and luxurious housing. Protesters said that gentrification is driving out their neighborhood shops and threatening to turn Mission Street into another Valencia Street.
SF State literature and creative writing professor Tran Truong were among those who spoke out against gentrification during a speech. He stated that planners for city development and future tenants would rather open luxurious businesses, moving out working class residents.
“What we have in this place is a tech company that services the redevelopment blueprints,” said Truong.
Activists and volunteers all joined forces to bring this event to fruition. Immigrant rights activist Sandra Becerra gave a speech on preserving the Mission culture by emphasizing the need for fair housing and the constant fight of unification.
Carlos Bocanegra, a University of San Francisco law student, made remarks as to what officials have done in response to the communities calling off gentrification. He further mentioned how landlords and developers have affected the Mission and are unwilling to make a common good for the community.
“They’ve [city officials] done absolutely nothing. What we’re facing is a crisis that strikes at the very heart of this community. We’re here today because we’ve had enough!” Bocanegra said.
Protesters showed up in solidarity to fight for their community rights, demanding funding from the city as they aim to preserve the families and small businesses in Mission street for years.
“We’re fighting for our survival because the effects of gentrification of big money, big development and incompetent city officials is too much,” said Elsa Contreras, Mission resident and former SF State student.
Protesters continued on to Market Street and S. Van Ness Avenue despite the rain. Mission native and one of the founders of Our Mission No Eviction, Roberto Hernandez stated outside of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) building of how transit has also affected the area.
“They also took the parking away from Mission Street,” said Hernandez. “A lot people have been moved out, lost their jobs, lost their businesses because of planning on the part of SFMTA. So we’re here to demand that SFMTA bring the streets back!”
United to Save the Mission stated in their Save the Mission Street Campaign that more than 5,000 cars were removed per day from Mission Street by SFMTA to install the rapid bus lanes, causing massive destabilization of local businesses that have remained in the Mission for years.
There is a need for city officials and leaders that can offer services to the community that break through language and cultural barriers in order to create more robust equity programs and programs.
Protesters will continue to battle for their community’s rights until they’ve reached an agreement with the Board of Supervisors.