For decades San Francisco’s Mission District has been a hub for the city’s vibrant Latino community.
Built with Mexican land grants, the neighborhood helped give birth to the 1960s Chicano movement, a vast Hispanic mural project and even the vibrant low-rider culture.
In recent years, however, the Mission District has become a popular neighborhood for wealthy San Franciscans looking for a hip neighborhood close to their downtown offices as the city goes through an economic boom.
This change has some longtime residents and businesses worried that the neighborhood they grew up in will disappear and their culture along with it, causing a group of citizens to petition the San Francisco city government to designate the area around the 24th Street commercial corridor as the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District.
"Things always change, but not this dramatically, this fast," Erick Arguello, who has lived in the area since his family emigrated from Nicaragua in 1963, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've been fighting battles (to preserve this area) for a lot of years ... it's exhausting. By creating a Latino cultural district, the city would be recognizing its roots, acknowledging the contributions the Latino community has made and who is here."
The Calle 24 supporters are currently working with San Francisco District 9 supervisor David Campos – who introduced the measure at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday – and in the next few months will hold a number of meetings to see what the community wants to see happen in the area, such as mural preservation, building more affordable housing and ensuring the resilience of Latino-owned businesses.
“I think that preserving the cultural identity of a neighborhood is very important,” Campos told CBS News.
Arguello and other Calle 24 supporters understand that it will be a tough battle to fight the ever-growing development in the Mission District and admit that it is sometimes better to work with the new arrivals. Some new stores and restaurants are also trying to be respectful of the traditional Latino culture of the Mission District.
When the Pig & Pie restaurant opened in the neighborhood owner Miles Pickering opted to keep the signage of the famed, now-shuttered record store Discolandia.
"We worked with him to preserve it," he said. "A lot of people don't want this to be like Valencia Street or Noe Valley - we want to be who we are. We're not down on anybody else, but we want to keep the character here, keep it special."
Along with working with the new business, Arguello says he hopes that the city will also give local business loans to more traditional restaurants to make sure the eateries not only survive but thrive in the changing Mission District.
“We’re hoping that by doing this, the city acknowledges and recognizes there’s a lot of history there,” Arguello added.