After hearing about the displacement of Encantada Gallery, long-time Mission resident Nancy Obregon said: “Back in the 90’s when there was the dot-com gentrification, it was this wave of change. But now it’s like a tsunami of change. It’s moving fast and taking everything that was here with it. And it got Mía.”
On May 7, after 16 years in business, Mía Gonzalez , operator of Encantada Gallery, a Latino art store and space, received a 30-day eviction notice. The owners of the property gave no reason.
During her time there, she’d seen five owners of the building at 908 Valencia come and go each time her lease was renewed.
When the most recent owner acquired the property in December 2012, her luck ran out. With new tech money flushing through the district, the owners decided they wanted her out.
Gonzalez enlisted the help of San Francisco attorney Victor Marquez to negotiate a new lease, or, enough time to pack up 16 years of history and secure a new location. The owners refused to negotiate.
“The unfortunate circumstances for commercial businesses is that we have absolutely no rights and no protections. The landlord can throw you out in a heartbeat,” added Gonzalez.
Encantada is only one of many small businesses that have been displaced with new upscale restaurants, cafes, wine bars, trendy high-end shops and market rate condos.
The landscape of the district has dramatically changed with the line between the have and have-nots becoming deeper, clearer. There are now 1,826 tech companies in the City and a 30 percent annual growth in tech jobs. Working class families and artists are being pushed out — as are the unique, locally owned shops such as Encantada.
“This used to be a solid working middle class neighborhood. The most long-term businesses that have developed a culture for the neighborhood become irrelevant. With all this new money there seems to be no sense at all about moving in and getting us out,” said Gonzalez.
“It’s all about conquering and because they have the money, they have the power. To them it has nothing to do with history, nothing to do with displacement and disrupting the contour of a neighborhood and a community. It is becoming homogenized,” she said.
Long-time residents walking through the Valencia corridor notice the increased density and foot traffic in the area.
“I don’t even recognize it any more,” said Obregon, who has lived in the Mission most of her life.
In the meantime Gonzalez wonders why she was not given an opportunity to renew her lease.
For now, Gonzalez is taking stock of her situation and figuring out what to do next. She’s looking at trying to relocate somewhere in the district, and she’s counting on her support system of friends and family to help her pack up her store.
Local artists and musicians have stepped up to help her gather enough money to move. A fundraiser was held last Wednesday at Casa Sanchez and a PayPal account has been set up.
For more information contact Mía Gonzalez at 415-642-3939. To help support her move, go to PayPal https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/send-money-online and type in Mía’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org