Community celebrates Latino cultural preservation in Mission

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, May 23, 2014
Mission District celebration
Mission District celebration for Calle 24 Latino Cultural District designation.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The efforts to slow down the gentrification of the Mission District are being celebrated by a lot of people. Considered the heart of the Latino culture, 24th Street has been designated the "Calle 24 Latino Cultural District."

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved that designation on Tuesday, but community leaders waited until Friday to celebrate and come together to begin making this a reality.

In the Mission, 24th Street has long been the hub of the Latino culture, with its taquerias and panaderias that sell those sugary Mexican pastries. The homes in one alleyway were once blank canvases, but now tell the stories of Latinos in San Francisco. Cultural events found only in the Mission have helped Latino artists get recognized worldwide.

Fearing that most of it would be replaced someday because of gentrification, the city decided it was time to begin talking about preserving the Mission. The resolution to designate it the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District was led by supervisor David Campos and Mayor Ed Lee.

"The thing about culture and history, it that it is something we should protect and cherish and that's what this is about," San Francisco Supervisor David Campos said.

In the next few months, people in the community will come together to draft a historical context statement expected by early next year.

"What is it that we want here, what we don't want here, what kind of architecture we want here, what kind of neighborhood-serving businesses we want here," Eric Arguello from the 24th Street Merchant's Association said.

While it has taken years to get here, the big push came recently as the real estate boom began driving out Latino residents and local businesses.

"I think gentrification moved this forward quickly and it moved, so it's one of those things we are working on 24th Street and the rest of the city," Anne Cervantes from the San Francisco Latino Historical Society said.

The third crucial move will be the planning code restrictions, like the ones already in place in Chinatown and Japantown.

That will affect any future development in the area to make sure Calle 24 remains el corazon -- the heart of the Mission.