White Guilt Hates on Art Galleries in the SF Chronicle

I always knew that art galleries were evil because artists are hippies that vote for democrats, but I never knew that they are one of the reasons the Mission is being gentrified:

Editor – I celebrate the representation of art in all its forms, whether it be in museums, on public walls or in galleries (“Artists take it to the street (Valencia),” Aug. 22). However, it should be noted that it is often the artists and gallery owners who move into low-rent neighborhoods who plant the seeds of gentrification. While the growing number of galleries in the Mission District may be engaging a new audience, high-rent condominiums are being built only blocks away, where bakeries, grocery stores and community centers used to stand. I fear the day when the Mission will have to take a new name because the Latino residents and businesses can no longer afford to stay in the neighborhood they worked so hard to build.

– Rachel Rosenberg, San Francisco


Maybe people disagree with me, but I think the neighborhood could still keep the name “Mission” even if there were no Latinos, given that it was the Mission back when it was mostly Irish and German.  Oh, and Ohlone slaves initially built the Mission.  Sorry, Rachel.

(hat tip Mission Loc@l)

Author: Kevin Montgomery

No one should have a biography at age 24.

47 thoughts on “White Guilt Hates on Art Galleries in the SF Chronicle”

    1. I think the most interesting thing is her claim that latinos “worked so hard to build” the Mission. Really, I think they just moved in as the Irish moved out. My guess is that Rachael Rosenberg (who, and I am only guessing here, is probably not latino) is far more worked up over these galleries than 99% of the latinos in the Mission.

    2. GENTRIFICATION??? holy fuck where the has SHE been for the last 30 years?!

      coming up – the obligatory recitation of ‘artists move into low income district make it groovy, then wannabees without authenticity move in and drive prices up…’ blah blah blah. it’s not news. christ.

  1. Nobody (or at least very few people) decides to buy property in the Mission because of the existence of art galleries. They do have something in common with the galleries, though, in that they buy here because it’s relatively inexpensive when compared to other areas of the city. Rachel’s failing to distinguish the pretty obvious difference between correlation and causation.

    And at the end of the day who gives a shit what color the people in the hood are? Are you respectful of your neighbors? Great, then come on over and enjoy the weather and the culture.

  2. Is Rachel suggesting that white people don’t shop at bakeries and grocery stores? If so, it seems to me to be a very strange assertion.

    1. I’m white. I just ate a Damien Hirst painting for breakfast. It was a bit expensive and left a bad taste in my mouth so I think I’ll settle in with a Miro reproduction for dinner…

  3. Homes in the Mission aren’t usually any cheaper than elsewhere in the city. Its a myth. The Mission has been attractive for a long time because of the weather, nightlife, etc. The tired playbook of the rich trustafarian white kids who have the gaul to spout on about gentrification? Super-dooper silliness, that is.

  4. Homes in the Mission are, in fact, cheaper. Not sure what else to say. They just are. I know this to be true.

    1. This debate is kind of silly becaues nobody has provided the point of comparison. Homes in the Mission are cheaper than what? Certainly not homes in Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, or the Sunset. Yes, a home in the Mission is probably cheaper than Russian Hill.

      That aside, I wonder where those who decry gentrification think white people should live. Should there be white only neighborhoods where they must stay? Should there be neighborhoods that white people are not allowed to live in? Should their be neighborhoods you can’t move into if your income is above a certain threshold? Should there have been a rule that prevented Hispanics from moving into the Mission back before it was an Hispanic neighborhood? Should there have been a rule that prevented gays from gentrifying non-gays out of the Castro way back when?

  5. For the position of “Decider de la Mission,” who gets to determine who qualifies to live in the Mission and who would unduly harm the character of the neighborhood (too white, too rich, has gears/brakes on their bike, goes to Medjool, etc.), I nominate myself.

    1. I’m sorry, Sha, but Stephen Elliot garnered the lifetime appointment to that position through his artfully mendacious termination of the horrific American Apparel threat to Mission realness. He deleted his most hater-like comments — and some of the most pointed criticism from others — from the Stop AA blog, but, sorry, he did it, so he still wins.

  6. It all depends on the house, of course. A dump anywhere is cheaper than a nice house. Prices for good properties are fairly comparable in most livable parts of the city. The condo market being as it is, SOMA for instance has some of the lowest sq foot prices in the city, but these things are specific to the buildings in question. And as for zillow… its useless. All I know is a guy up the street from me is selling a total dump tear down for $950k. No bargain.

    1. Zillow is a database. Sure you take it with a grain of salt but it’s definitely more accurate than baseless generalizations and anecdotes about “the guy up the street”.

      And SOMA valuations per. square foot are about 30% higher than the Mission right now. Yes, that’s in aggregate, but that’s exactly what we’re talking about- costs of entry into neighborhoods in general.

      And the Mission’s is lower than most, which is why people are interested in moving here. Not because of art galleries.

  7. Let’s focus the real problem — boutiques.

    You know the ones I’m talking about. They sell nothing useful, have “artistic sounding” names, and don’t really contribute anything to the community.

    1. What, exactly does this mean: “..and don’t really contribute anything to the community.”?

      Please elaborate, and let us know how you draw the line between what does and does not contribute to the community. Provide examples of both.

      1. Non-contributors: rip-offs, worthless shit. Check cashing places are a prime example. Stores run by people who mistakenly believe they are artistic are definitely another.

      2. Customers of the check cashers and businesses selling “rip offs, worthless shit” would probably disagree.

      3. @piratesnack: customers of check cashing places probably know exactly how fucked up those places are. Loans with annual interest rates of several hundred percent are not a valuable or just service to provide.

      4. Mario, are you saying that customers of check cashing places would actually be better off if the check cashing place left? I.e., if they could no longer patronize the business of their choosing? You think all those customers are just being duped? That they don’t really know what’s best for them? It’s an interesting theory, but in the absence of evidence, I think it’s safer to think that people patronize businesses that provide them with the goods and services that are the best for them.

        And a loan with a high interest rate is a very sensible and useful service to provide when the alternative is paying bounced check fees, late payment fees on your rent, having your car repossessed that you need to get to work, etc. A high interest rate on such short term loans to high risk borrowers is likely necessary to cover the costs of doing business.

      5. Hey, sweet straw man argument, guy.

        Payday loan interest rates are worse than those of loan sharks. Keep trying to convince yourself that that’s a good thing.

      6. Mario, if what I addressed was a “straw man” then what is your argument? That check cashers charge high interest rates? I don’t think anyone disagrees that they are higher than bank rates.

        But what you actually said was that they are “unjust.” That is exactly the argument I addressed. What criteria are you using to determine whether a loan is just? The loans are consensual and serve a needed purpose for those customers. I don’t see why that is a straw man argument.

      7. “Mario, are you saying that customers of check cashing places would actually be better off if the check cashing place left? I.e., if they could no longer patronize the business of their choosing? You think all those customers are just being duped? That they don’t really know what’s best for them? It’s an interesting theory, ” blah blah etc.

        (hint: no, that’s not what I said at all, and i don’t care enough to reply again. kbye.)

      8. Mario, Sorry, my mistake, you’re right. You’re not actually saying anything at all. Bye.

  8. TJ, use the MLS instead of Zillow. Zillow is useless. Mission is district 9 on MLS. Do some comparison shopping.

  9. to ” decry gentrification” is not to say that whites can live here. it is to say that mostly upper income people are moving in AT THE EXPENSE of lower income people. it’s not about who moves in, but whether those who were already there are being FORCED out. And it is true, and shown in most other examples of gentrification, that the “arrival” of artists/galleries does antedate the arrival of upper income folks and gentrification. The ironic thing is that this gentrification also forces the artists/galleries out as well.

    as for the Ohlone reference: ah, native americans enslaved by spanish europeans… isn’t that what latin americans are by definition?

      1. “it’s not about who moves in, but whether those who were already there are being FORCED out”

        As an initial matter, I don’t think your use of the word “FORCED” is accurate. When gentrification occurs, people move to other neighborhoods once their lease expires. Your idea that a person’s choice to move to a cheaper apartment rather than pay a rent increase is a use of “FORCE” is an interesting rhetorical ploy, but I don’t think it is an accurate use of the word “force.” Rather, it is a decision not to renew a contract when the term of the contract has expired.

        Semantics aside, however, to state it’s not about “who moves in” but instead about “who is FORCED out” seems like an odd distinction to me. Are they not two sides of the same coin? Assuming you hold the housing stock constant, someone generally has to move out for someone else to move in.

        Finally, you seem to be decrying the fact that the rich and the poor sometimes compete for the same scarce resources — in this case housing in the Mission. I still have never heard anyone provide a clear, neutral rule that would insulate the poor from this type of competition (assuming, for the sake of argument, that doing so would even be wise). What is the rule you advocate if not, “People who make over six figures, you have to live in Russian Hill”? The opposition has offered the simple principle of “People live where they are able to freely negotiate with the current owner of the property to live.” What rule do you offer?

    1. I think it’s a fallacy that “upper income people” move here at the expense of “lower income people.” I think people move here because they can afford it here and they can’t afford it elsewhere. I think we all agree that the Mission is better than Visitacion Valley, right? So they want to move to the best place that they can afford. The residents of the Mission that you might consider “lower income” may in fact have less income than the newer residents, but that is because they moved here previously — when it cost less. The idea that home prices should stay stagnant for all time, and thus equalize the income level of everyone in a particular neighborhood is, well, an interesting proposition. But unlikely.

      1. Wait! I’ve got it! We should have income districts! You can only live in the district that matches your income level, right? So if you get a raise, you have to move to….Cole Valley! And if you lose your job, you have to move to the Tenderloin! And if you kinda go to college and all your bills are paid by your parents, then you get to live in the Mission! Right?

      2. If you make more than $80k, you have a Chris Daly clone that parks his self-loathing suburban ass out your window and calls you the harbinger of evil all day long.

      3. I don’t think income levels are really the central point of the discussion. The issue is how a community is losing the businesses that it needs and getting new businesses that it doesn’t need.

      4. That’s an interesting idea. I would think the businesses that are “needed” are those that are providing the goods and services that people want and are willing to pay for. If those people shop at art galleries, boutiques, etc., so be it. What mechanism do you propose for determining what businesses a community needs? It seems like you want to define “community” in such a way as to not account for the desires of people who shop at boutiques, but I can’t think of a principled reason to do that.

      5. I think Eric has a point here. He clearly understands which businesses the community needs and which ones it doesn’t. Given that he knows what has value and what doesn’t–for everyone–perhaps we should follow his lead.

      6. Sorry Eric, I came off a bit mean-spirited. But to Piratesnack’s point, there’s really no way to determine what has value for everyone.

        Moreover, the demographics of any neighborhood are fluid, to varying degrees. Sometimes tough neighborhoods become gentrified, and nice neighborhoods can become blighted over time. It’s a natural process. Sometimes painful, but no neighborhood is static.

      7. True, we can’t always determine what has value. But the residents of a neighborhood can (and should) have a say over what goes on in that neighborhood.

        If you disagree, you may end up living in a cream-colored condo above a Wal-Mart store where your Victorian studio apartment used to be.

      8. Of course everyone agrees that, in a democracy, people should have a say about “what goes on” in a neighborhood. We don’t want theft and graffiti in our neighborhood, so we outlaw theft and graffiti. But whether any particular exercise of the democratic process is wise is another question. Saying “people should have a say” does not answer the question of “What should the people say?” So far, you haven’t ever answered that question. Are you saying people should vote for income districts? Are you saying people should vote to keep white people out of neighborhoods? I mean, really, how are you suggesting people exercise this right to “say what goes on in their neighborhood”? And how far does that right extend? Should the previous residents of the Mission exercised that say to keep the Hispanics out? Should the previous residents of the Castro used it to keep the gays out? Should the residents of Russian Hill decide that their rents are too high and therefore exercise their say to keep people out?

    2. “isn’t that what latin americans are by definition?”


      Read up some more on the history of the Spanish Colonial Empire. It’s a bit more complex (though no less horrific) than you make it out to be.

  10. Little know funnies in the Mission gentrification genuflection:

    The most torrid culprit cited in the whole war? Bryant Square. An investment of the California State Teacher’s Retirement system.

    The original loudest voices on the subject? Well one we all know moved to the East Bay. Another took 1/2 Million from the biggest predatory lender of all. And another abandoned the hood more a sweet manse (bought with a sizable inheritance) on the other side of town, where he has a commune focused on promoting biodiesel.

    If anyone else has some, please share. I need irony to live.

  11. if these tired intellectual and yet, at the same time, profoundly ignorant and misinformed comments don’t illustrate gentrification in the mission, I don’t know what the fuck does.

    1. Agreed. Who are these people? debating the meaning of getting “forced out” ??? reducing it to choice? are you kidding me? privileged myopia.

  12. I am a latina born and raised in the Mission and i think white people need to stay out of the mission district because none of the latinos really want you here and quit trying to claim that whites were here before latinos cuz that some bullshit and you know it!! Go take over the asians hood if you havent already fuckin typical white people’s goal in life!

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