The Mission: "The Neighborhood Facebook Built"

Because of my sick fascination with what travel writers have to say about our beloved neighborhood, I tend to read a lot of trite puff pieces from the likes of the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

These hotel folk often see things about cities and neighborhoods that their inhabitants don't spot.  While we're too busy discussing the details, they see the bigger picture, identifying emerging pop urban trends before any of the locals even know what the hell is happening behind the wheel of the Urban Safari.

With that, today's blurb from Oregon's MIX Magazine is a real doozy:

The Neighborhood Facebook Built

Once upon a time The Mission was the “Mexican neighborhood.” It was known for its cheap bars, big burritos, and the guys on the corner who sold bacon-wrapped hot dogs or baggies of chile-dusted mango slices.

The hot dog slingers are still there, but things are definitely changing. Brooklyn-ization is in full swing. The commerce of cool is booming. Rents are skyrocketing, partly because everyone wants to live in the newly trendy Mission, and partly because of its proximity to Silicon Valley. On weekday mornings, large luxury buses equipped with deluxe seats and Wi-Fi park in strategic locations, ready to truck tech workers south to Apple, Facebook and other high-profile companies each day. The people on those buses are mostly young and are supposed to be wicked smart. They have ample cash flow and highly discerning taste. They’ll wait for hours for a table at a hip Jewish deli, pay $13.50 for a gourmet Reuben sandwich, and then tweet about the experience: “To our right, babies slurping matzo ball soup. To our left, a family speaking Hebrew. Behind us, a pair of transvestites. @wisesonsdeli.”

I know, I know, my initial reaction was to tell her go the fuck on back north, too.  “The neighborhood Facebook built?”  Puh-leeeease.

But once I choked my rising bile back down, I got to thinking that this crazy foodie globetrotter isn't all that wrong.  Is the Mission really a “Mexican” neighborhood anymore?  Well, no.  At least, not if you look at the clientele almost every new business is targeting.  Sure, we still have murals, festivals, hot-dog carts, Spanish-speaking businesses, and, as the author put it, “it’s still possible to get a great burrito in The Mission.”  But things are “definitely changing.”

Does this mean The Mission has graduated from “Latino/hipster neighborhood” to “urban 'suburb'”, adding another chapter to its Native American villages/settler farmland/industrial center/Irish-German neighborhood history?  Perhaps it's too soon for that (I mean, we still have places like The Roxie and Bender's and Clooney's and Casa Sanchez punk nights and art collectives, right?), but this is increasingly how the outside world perceives us.

Comments (36)

You see what you seek out. Criticism is autobiography.

[fart sound]

Is this what success looks like?

Except for the references to Facebook, Twitter, and $13.50 reubens, that article could have been written in 1997.

The article seems pretty spot on.

The inhabitants have noticed the changes. It’s the newcomers who don’t realize what they are.

Spot on, Shemp.

Except that the current inhabitants are the newcomers… the rest of us have been forced out by speedily rising rents. I love this fucking city, but am pretty sure that by year’s end, I’ll be an Oakland denizen because my fair city has pushed my ass out with all the other poor people and families.

Honest question: how are you being priced out of a rent-controlled apartment?

Yes. Plus, ya know, there was a time when you were considered a newcomer and the then-inhabitants were bitching about you.

While rent maybe stabilized, the price of everything has gone up dramatically- it’s really hard to find a place to eat that doesn’t have $20+ entrees, and a sandwich that sets you back less than $9. When the costs of living rise so dramatically -$12 cocktails are the norm- there are fewer places for you to go. Hence being priced out. When there are a lot of places to go and enjoy your surroundings, it feels warmer, and welcoming, as opposed to hostile.

Dude, are you kidding? San Francisco abounds in cheapo places to get things to eat!

Gotta second this. If you’re normally paying $12 for a cocktail in the Mission you must be going to some fancy “mixology” bars. And sure, there’s places where a sandwich is $9 but you don’t have to go there.

There’s plenty of things in San Francisco that deserve criticism, but we’re hella spoiled when it comes to food.

You have obviously never heard of a torta before. Always below $9. And in a neighborhood heavily comprised low income families (East of Mission) you have access to fresh and inexpensive produce. Living here isn’t expensive (outside of rent) if you don’t eat out every meal or go out every evening for drinks.

Fuck that, at Bar, $12 will get you 3 or 4 cocktails, depending on who’s working. Of course, none of them will have house-made bitters or muddled arugula in them.

Most people can’t plan on living in the same rent controlled apartment for the rest of their lives.

I moved to a rent-controlled unit 2 years ago with my partner. Since then, rents in my neighborhood and building have increased dramatically (53% is the last figure I saw), while our salaries have increased at a lesser rate. Once my landlord realized that he could get $600 more per month than he could when we signed our lease, he simply stops servicing our unit and generally makes the building less comfortable (locks on common area amenities, temporary half-ass repairs that break within a few weeks, etc) with the expectation that folks will get tired of dealing with him and move out. I pay $1700 for a one bedroom and hardly consider myself a charity case. We did a household budget, found a place to live that was within our means, were told that we were dream tenants based on our finances when we signed the lease, pay our rent on time and just over 2 years later are being treated like burdensome deadbeats. So yeah, we aren’t technically being evicted, but do deal with things like a toilet leaking for 2 days or a broken refrigerator. I could fight him, but would likely just leave if it got to that point. The only option then would be to leave SF.

Get yourself to the Tenant’s Union. If your landlord is not making you repairs you can petition the Rent Board and actually have your rent lowered. Don’t give into the greedy landlords…even if you want to move it is your duty to the community to call him out on this crap. No one is turned away at the Tenant’s Union for advice (except landlords…)

And while you’re there, ask them how they can help you get on the path of owning your own home. That’s really the most viable long term solution if you want to stay in SF and not feel like a guest.

Try not being on the lease where you live. Landlords now make people who move into places with existing leaseholders sign agreements that they are not on the lease but living there. So if the leaseholder moves out you’re fucked. Good luck finding a place to live. What if your bf/gf dumps you and you have to move out? It’s a pretty brutal environment right now. I’m in the process of losing my studio and trying to find a new workspace is rough.

I don’t want to split hairs… But it should probably be “Latino neighborhood” and “hipster neighborhood/urban suburb.”

Been in and out of SF since 1997 and my family has been here since the ‘40’s

This priced out, newcomers pushing out long-timers, gentrification thing has been going on for at least since the early 90’s. Seriously.

The only time in the last 50 years when it wasn’t EXACTLY the same conversation as now, was in the 1970’s with white flight to the suburbs; when whole neighborhoods (I’m looking at you Upper and Lower Haight) when to shit.

And I dig the comment:
Honest question: how are you being priced out of a rent-controlled apartment?

the city is expensive, and the job market is crazy over saturated and competitive. i always had to have roommates, and i never paid less than 500-600 which was often over half of what i could earn working entry level jobs, many of which only offer part time and often i’d end up table scoring burrito butts on the way home from work just so i could eat …. that was 5 years ago.
i don’t feel passionately enough to have an east bay vs sf debate, but i will say that the vast majority of the folks i met in sf 10 years ago have moved to oakland or fruitvale, and my favorite parts of the underground music/art scene seem to have followed suit. when i go to sf the most i usually end up doing is hang out in a park with a friend or go on a walk because thats all i can afford… and i dont have a kid or anything! i can only imagine what it would be like to be a single mother what with all the expenses that go along with that…

that is where I’m at too. When I moved to SF 10 years ago, I LOVED it. Most of the reasons for that love are what you state above. Lately, I’ve noticed that more of the things I like to do (mostly music and art related) and most of the people who do them are now doing so in Oakland. My assumption is that the folks moving here now prefer the new stuff to the old, which is fine for them. It’s just that most of the major selling points for me to move here are not around as much anymore (with the exception of beautiful scenery and beautiful parks) and what has replaced them has very little interest or value to me and my group of friends. Most of my socializing now happens at park BBQs or friends’ apartments simply for the fact that going out has become so expensive.

Neither of you like or know the art scene…because if you did, you would know it is thriving right now in SF.

yeah man, I know there is still a lot going on and I’m involved and check out a lot of it. I’m just experiencing now what the folks before me were experiencing when I first came here….there is still a lot going on, but there used to be more.

An art scene thrives when there are people who create art AND purchase it.

you are just getting old and out of touch.

Dude - The Mission turned into Brooklyn a long time ago. Now it’s turning into SoHo. Facebookers are pushing out the hipsters who pushed out the lesbians who pushed out the central americans who pushed out the mexicans who pushed out the irish pushed out the germans etc etc etc.

one thing is for sure, the mission (valencia st. in particular) is not a latino neighborhood.
in fact, the whole damn city is not as diverse as people assume it to be.
when i walk by all the bars/restaurants in the mission, full of homogenous white people.
look around and you’ll see it, too.

if you can’t find a place with drinks under $12, you need to stop drinking in resturants and start drinking in bars…..

I used live in a 4 bedroom flat in the mission in the late 80s early 90s and the entire rent was $825.
My room cost $225, and it was big, a nice spacious victorian.
I rarely even get to the mission anymore, it really makes me sad. The new demographic of people there dont seem to bring anything but high rents, no interesting foreign culture, no dropout dissident perspective, no controversy, no struggle, no nothing but just a bunch of rich white people with no interest in the neighborhood or its vibrant culture of resistance. Its sad. I give up. But maybe if someone flattened a few tires on those google busses……

Rents never really went down after the first dot bomb boom and bust. Maybe a little but not to pre-boom rates. Tack on another and this is going to be the time when we lose more people and replace them with more transplants and we lose the Purple Onion, Tosca and more.

I guess that’s cool if you like suburbia by the sea!

one other question - when people move to Oakland, where in Oakland do they go? any particular neighborhood? They can’t all be going to Rockridge.

Rockridge is so yesterday! Today most newcomers settle int Uptown, Old Oakland, Temescal, Jack London, Adams Point, Lakeshore, Piedmont Ave., Jingletown (tons of artists!) and for quieter surrounding definitively Glenview!

There you go :)

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