Mission Small Business Owners Talk Gentrification

Youtube user nico1001nico made a nice short documentary about Mission gentrification from the perspective of the small business owners. For the most part, they don’t really seem to mind the changes happening. There’s less crime, better business, and more diversity.

Micah from Black & Blue delivers the most scathing line, when asked what she’d like to see changed: “More low income housing, more services available to the poor, and less trust fund babies moving into the neighborhood.”

The most baffling quote comes from Connie, the Latina business owner, describing her dream of 24th becoming the next Noe Valley. For serious?


Dregs One on Gentrification

Update: Video removed by the creator. Probably pissed off too many trust fund babies.

Update 2: Aaand it’s back. Not sure what’s changed:

68 Responses to “Mission Small Business Owners Talk Gentrification”

  1. kiya says:

    This exact situation reminds me of 2006 when i went to Iran to visit famly…
    I asked family members how they felt about George Bush wanting to invade Iran and almost every single person said “we’d love it, when you go home you tell him to bring the American troops here, we want to be invaded, we hate our government and are willing to live through another war for it to change”.
    I was floored.

    • I can’t decide if that’s the worst proof-reading I’ve ever read, or the all-time best sarcasm. Hoping for the latter.

    • james says:

      I was told the same thing in Cairo in 2007: Saddam Hussein got what he deserved, and they wished we’d do the same to Mubarak. So surprising to me, the good American liberal.

  2. MrEricSir says:

    Let me get this straight — a bunch of white people who run a tattoo shop on Guerrero and 16th are complaining about gentrification? Give me a break.

    • Drew says:

      I know, right? That neighborhood has been gentrified for over a decade.

      • johnny0 says:

        I have a theory that any outsiders’ perspective/perception of a place lags by 5 to 10 years compared to what’s really going on there. (Probably 10-15 years internationally, and maybe a little bit less regionally.)

  3. Andy says:

    I’ve only lived here a little over two years, so I don’t know how much cooler it used to be or whatever, but honestly, it seems fairly positive at this point.

    A lot of the businesses moving into the newly refurbished area of Valencia are a bit too upscale for me personally, and while I will admit the crowd at Casanova, Elbo and some of the bars around there is beginning to look more at home in Pac Heights or the Marina, there is hardly a shortage of other great bars in the area where this is not the case. I don’t even have enough time to drink at all of them.

    While I’m sure all this is not a new trend, I do support having a “tourist” area of the mission where people with $$$ from other neighborhoods come to spend it because of some ‘cool’ cache, or whatever.

    What I mean is, all the hip artists and musicians who want to be marginally employed and live cheap, well, don’t you guys all work at bars and restaurants anyways? These folks are your patrons, no?

    While some argue the slippery slope– first it’s Valencia, then the whole Mission– I think we can all agree that the section of 24th b/w Mission and Potrero will NEVER be Noe Valley, at least until way after my 20-somethings generation is in our 50s, and by then who gives a shit I’ll probably be one of em anyway.

  4. Could we please stop misusing the word “gentrification”? “Gentry” means “landowners” — therefor, “gentrification” means “buying of land”. Most people like the idea of owning land — most of ‘em will do it in a heartbeat if they get enough money — what they dislike is the idea of having to rent or lease from absentee, blood-sucking slumlords. I mean, let’s call a spade a spade, and quit using made-up, obfuscatory, Big-Brother-speak like “gentrification”

    Gentrification, by the way, was what Connie was reminiscing about — when Latinos used to own the Mission business properties they operated. I’m not really sure if there was more or less of that in the past.

    • Tim says:

      The origins of a word don’t necessarily determine its definition, you know. Be real, COMG. Look it up in the dictionary if you don’t believe me.

      • If you’re not happy with the Orwellian objection to the word “gentrification”, how about the William Carlos Williams objection, “No ideas but in things”? I’ll take “absentee, blood-sucking slumlords” over “gentrification” any day of the week for pure, clean language that means something, with literal references, not vague abstractions.

  5. hmm says:

    yea we need more joyerias with hundreds of weird little sculptures of jesus, and other useless crap no one wants. do even the mexican people shop at those weird little places?

    • wondering says:

      I would take those places any day over a boutique that sells $200 shirts and $400 pants and dresses.

      • wondering says:

        How do you think a local mexican person feels when they walk into “mission Workshop”, “artillery” “dreams and unicorns” or whatever new boutique pops up? They propably think it’s all useless crap no one wants.

      • If those two stores are our only options, then we are doomed already. And letting neighborhood activists determine for us what our options are is the best way to guarantee that those two are our only options.

    • Marisol says:

      Mexican people who are interested in finding out more about their culture will. Though some, like me, will be turned off by the prices. But that’s what authentic indigenous stuff is worth (obviously I’m not referring to the printed t-shirts and the like here…).

  6. hazelbroom says:

    What’s baffling about Connie wanting lower 24th to look more like Noe Valley? Sounds to me like she just wants to live/work in a place with clean sidewalks. Let’s face it, the corner that Mixcoatl occupies is no gem.

    • wondering says:

      I’m sure when she goes out of business some 24 year old wealthy Berkeley grad will open up a new boutique called “Unicorns and Dreams” in it’s place, then everyone will be able to get the cutest and most expensive little trinkets around.

  7. eh? says:

    does anyone actually know someone with a trust fund?

    i’ve been hearing about ‘trust fund babies’ my whole life. I’ve never met anybody that has one or admitted to it at least.

    Are these even real? Or am i just too working class? Is this an east coast thing?

    • GP says:

      Gotta be an east coast thing. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this. I knew one girl with a trust fund and she was from NYC. She moved back after a while, which seems pretty typical. I feel like trust funders all do a stint on the west coast and then move back.

    • dude says:

      my girlfriend has one, she’s living in europe right now.

    • I know several people fortunate to have trust funds. Many people who have them don’t like talking about for obvious reasons.

    • Ferocious Foot Odor says:

      Chris Daly had one, but I think he blew it on Fairfield ranchers and a smelly bar.

    • thegrinch says:

      yeah, I have a roommate with a trust fund, but it’s not huge. He lives pretty frugally, with occasional splurges like trips out of the country.

      It’s still quite the luxury to have that kind of net, of course. If I miss a paycheck I’m in big trouble!!

  8. mixcoatl lady says:

    “i wish it was like noe valley only no white people”

  9. pat says:

    Gentrification seems like a valid word that’s been turned incoherent and loaded through overuse against anyone who doesn’t qualify for a subsidy to live somewhere.

    It’s a 7×7 square, it’s not getting bigger, and a lot more people want to live here than can afford to. Should each one of them be subsidized? How about only ones who were born here? Would that be fair as long as it doesn’t come from a trust fund?

    People who simply have jobs or move from one place to another aren’t categorically the same as “trust fund babies”. People should stay unemployed where they are and not move to where they can apply a skill?

    What’s behind the negativity- is it reverse resentment against complainers about illegal immigrants? Sounds like 2 sides of the same shitty coin.

    How about check out an individual’s values and what work they do in the community, and try not to rely on “I was here first” for anything. Wrongly calling a person who grew up with problems a “trust fund baby” doesn’t do a bit of good.

    • one says:

      holy fuck dude, you sound like one of those ranters who go on about how poor people should move out of SF – if they can’t be ‘productive’ they don’t ‘deserve’ to live here.

  10. Ryan says:

    Gag me. Perhaps the tattoo shop should move to Vis Valley if they hate “gentrification” so much.

  11. Zouaf says:

    It’s all so overblown. Maybe the neighborhood is less rough and less Latino than it used to be, but it’s still pretty rough and predominantly Latino. Less crime benefits everyone, new restaurants and bars bring jobs, and the idea that the poor will be “squeezed out” is faintly ridiculous. SF has very strong tenant protections and it’s very difficult for a landlord to jack up the rent overnight.

    As for the trust fund babies thing, it’s a gross generalization and pretty offensive. Some people might see me as a trust fund baby and I can assure you I’m not. I went to college and found a job, and I suspect that’s what the vast majority of white people in the Mission did as well.

    • cliff notes says:

      rough?? the mission is rough if you’re from a suberb, and never seen a homeless person ever… This is one of the most tame urban areas i’ve ever lived in.

      p.s. i’m totally jinxing myself, and getting stabbed tonight..

      • Zouaf says:

        Yeah yeah, I know it’s not so bad. That said, people do get shot and stabbed a few blocks from my place… not too often… but every month or two. I’d say that’s kind of rough.

      • cliff notes says:

        a stabbing, or shooting every month or 2 is rough? *sigh*

  12. MrEricSir says:

    At some point we’re all going to have to face the fact that the low rents in the Mission are thanks to whores and drug addicts pissing and shitting on the sidewalk. It’s really a beautiful piece of land, it’s sunnier and warmer than most of the city, and it’s also fairly flat. There’s a lot going for the Mission, gentrified or not.

  13. marco says:

    Yawn. This is the same tired refrain we heard 20+ years ago when Valencia was all appliance stores, Firehouse 7 and The Albion graced the corners of 16th and Albion, the 500 Club was filled with drunk old-timers, and the Dolores Street median was flowing with broken auto glass. Incidentally, that was before the tattoo shop hipsters moved in to “gentrify” the neighborhood.

  14. mitchun says:

    *sigh* It’s like a broken record. White hipsters talking about “gentrification” (as if they even know what the word means)? How many times are we going to have to hear from unoriginal idiots like “Micah” complaining about all the people who moved to the neighborhood five years after she did (or just people who she doesn’t think are as cool as she is, regardless of when they moved here). At some point in your life you have to leave high school behind, you know.

    I feel for your dilemma, Micah. Geneva Avenue has a lot of vacancies if you want to flee the “gentrification.” Oh but wait, it’s sort of dangerous there and there’s no hipsters who want to pay for tattoos. Hmmm….what to do?

  15. kiya says:

    Aaaaaand the PR blunder of the year award goes to Black & Blue Tattoo.

  16. big nasty says:

    Why don’t we hear from the Irish people that used to live there from the 60′s on back? We didn’t hear or see them whining. But leave it up to the ignorant, just like Fox, to lay claims to racial and sexual divide.

    Way to go mission mission, you are doing your part, just like fox, only the other side. Sad.

    Nothing will ever change unless people of all backgrounds come together. Instead, you go to the fall back of racial inequality.

    Focus on policy and jobs, not race. Adapt or move. Neighborhoods always changes.

  17. sfnola says:

    Agreed, this conversation is tired and could have happened anytime in the last 20 years, or, likely, the next 20 years. Urban environments are always in flux. People come, people go, neighborhoods change. Some will lament what’s lost, others will embrace what has arrived.

    • Sweet T says:

      It’s like I often say: “NEIGHBORHOODS ALWAYS CHANGES.”

    • Todd_Lappin says:

      I’ve lived in or next door to the Mission for 20 years. What most impressive of all is how little has really changed even though a lot has changed. That’s a testament to both the durability of the Mission’s basic (Latino) character and the (generally agreeable) cohabitation with Anglos who are mostly concerned with having good places to eat. Which we now have.

  18. superasiaone says:

    I have a friend who grew up on 22nd and Treat St.(we graduated from H.S. together in the early 90′s). The only conversation we had about gentrification was years ago when he mentioned how happy he was that the Mission was changing because it meant that he didnt have to worry about getting his ass kicked. He has an older brother who was in a gang but my friend never was (unless you count a bunch of taggers which is what we were in HS as a “gang”).

  19. tacotron says:

    This is how it works: Get everyone in a circle. Now pass around tasty $1.50 tacos from Taqueria Vallarta. It’s good isn’t it?

  20. danfinger says:

    I’ve lived and worked here in SF since 1989. In that time I’ve met tons of folks’s from a variety of backgrounds.

    I have never known one person to have a trust fund. Every single person I’ve known who had money earned it by working.

    I think all the trust fund hatin’ is simply rooted in people’s envy of others with money.

    I’ll never forget the night I went into Sutter Station on Market st. I’d just gotten off of work (bussing tables) and still had my black and whites on. Some tatt’d up loudmouth says “Oh great, more trustfund yuppies …” I just had to laugh. So what, because I don’t have tats and I’m wearing a shirt with a collar I’m all of a sudden a trustfundian?

    People in this town need to get over themselves. Getting sleeves and drinking at Benders does not automagically make you “cool”. Being a happy non-judgmental human will go a lot further to that end.

    • According to guys like the one you encountered, the meanings of the words “trust fund” and “yuppie” have changed. “Trust fund” means “job”, and a “yuppie” is anyone living above the poverty line.

    • one says:

      Ha Ha!!! have you seen the promos for “Portlandia?” You will weep bec you can’t stop laughing.

      “This bar is OVER!” “Fixies are OVER!” “Shell art is OVER!”

    • one says:

      You think you don’t know any trustfunders…they will NEVER tell you.

      • wondering says:

        That guy/girl that has been at Pops or Dirty Thieves consistently for 2 years and does not talk about what they really do for work, or is still “in school”.

  21. NIMBY says:

    Can we interview some 80+ year old people to talk about how the Mission was prior to the area falling into a state of urban decay? People talking about how neighbors looked out for each other and greeted each other on the street. No tagging, no murals, no drunks pissing on my house, no crowds of idiots blocking the sidewalk at Boogaloo’s, no drug users at 16th & Mission, no dollar stores to speak of…

    Seriously, this topic is soooo tired. If you don’t like the fact that yo-topia is going to skew the ethnic diversity of your ‘hood, don’t go there. Posting comments on here is one thing but nothing speaks louder than where you choose to spend your money.

    Personally, I like the fact that it’s getting “safer and safer” here.

  22. Renzomatic says:

    Not unexpectedly, but the word ‘gentrification’ has become a catchword, but what I think it most means to those who use it, is synonomous with ‘change’. But gentrification is a the current word because it is a word that people can latch upon and use and that has some negative connotation, or at least emotional value. I suspect the word was different when the previous denizens of the Mission (the latinos, the asians, the Irish, the indians before that) had a word about what was taking place in their neighborhood (i.e. a change in the demographics) but it meant the same thing.

    It really is NIMBY-ism at its best.

  23. Francisco says:

    After watching this video I have mixed feelings about the actual authenticity of the video. What irritates me the most is the group that my parents belong to are completely ignored. Both of my parents are Chinese immigrants who moved into this country for almost twenty-five years. My mother and father stated a small gift shop business roughly twenty-two years ago. They have seen how the Mission District especially on Mission Street between 21st to 23rd Street. They have seen the changes in people, lifestyle, population and the money people spend. The video talks about how business isn’t too shabby or bad but how about those Chinese immigrants who own those gift shops that sell toys, watches and other random things? They are completely ignored and why? They make a good chunk of people in that area. Why do they not talk about how the changing of the Mission District is effecting those people? My parents still run a gift shop in the Mission District and they have seen sales fall dramatically in the last ten years. However they are not the only one, many of other Chinese immigrants who run gift shops in the area are noticing the dramatic drop in yearly sales. Wait that is not it, no more trust fund babies? There used to be a lot more Latino families in the area that were cheerful and overall pretty content with life. Fast forward to today and most of those families are gone from the Mission District. This is the part where I agree with the video where it says there are a lot more Caucasian people moving into the area. It is indeed true from my observations. I grew up in my parent’s gift shop and have seen the changes in the type of people in the Mission District and their behavior. As for safe, I have to disagree to a certain extent. We have found less people to be stealing however those who steal now at days from our store are more violent then before. This video also talks about graffiti, why do they not talk about the building owners who have the grief of going to City Hall to contest the citations for the graffiti and actually painting them over to comply with city laws? I thought the video was interesting but a narrow minded version of certain aspects.

    • Marisol says:

      I salute you!
      Interesting and very valid point.
      Also, I love those gift shops
      I was really sad when the big one 23rd closed and moved to a smaller venue on 24th, which also closed. :( I will go explore the others

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