No room left in San Francisco for an artist who helped make the Mission what is

Join the march to support Rene Yañez and others facing eviction

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Rio and Rene Yañez
Jess Young

After four decades living and creating art in the Mission, iconic San Francisco artist and curator Rene Yañez is being threatened with eviction.

Yañez made local history in 1972 when he brought Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday honoring the dead, to San Francisco. The parade through the Mission District every Nov. 2 quickly became a Bay Area tradition, drawing thousands of people each year.

He founded the Galeria de la Raza and brought Latin America’s premier artists and photographers to showcase their work there. When the Museum of Modern Art rejected the work of a little-known Mexican woman, it was Yañez who gave a young Frida Kahlo a space to exhibit her paintings. He taught art classes for youths in the community and offered crucial support to many of the Mission’s mural projects.

In 1998, the San Francisco Foundation awarded Rene the “Special Trustees Award in Cultural Leadership.” Now, the man who has contributed so much to the culture of this city finds himself on the verge of being expelled from it.

Rene’s impending eviction from the house on San Jose Avenue where he has lived for the for 35 years is producing a fierce reaction. Fellow artist and personal friend Guillermo Gómez-Peña recently released an open letter expressing his outrage and rallying for public support of Rene’s cause.

“You are being physically and culturally evicted,” Gómez-Peña writes. “Shame on this city! Shame on the greedy landlords and politicians! Your sadness is ours…A city without Rene Yañez…can’t be called San Francisco.”

Gómez-Peña’s cry to action will be answered tomorrow (Sat/12) at 2pm at the Brava Theater on 24th Street with Our Mission: No Eviction, a march in protest of the Ellis Act, the law used to evict all of the tenants living in the five-unit house on San Jose, including Rene, his partner Cynthia, his former wife Yolanda, and his son Rio. (For more on tomorrow's event and the city's eviction trend, see our Politics blog).

On Saturday, Oct. 26, Brava Theater in the Mission will host “Our Mission: No Eviction!” a fundraiser in honor of Rene and Yolanda featuring art and performances.  All proceeds from ticket sales to the event will go to the legal expenses of fighting the eviction, as well as Rene and Cynthia’s medical bills; both the artist and his partner are currently battling cancer.

“They were kind of at peace that this would be their home when they passed away, in the community they’ve put so much into,” Rio told us. “Cynthia could be dying or dead while they are in the process of moving.”

Under the Ellis Act, Rene and Cynthia qualify for a year-long postponement of their eviction because of their illness, a fact which their landlord, Sergio Iantorno of Golden Properties, LLC, neglected to tell Rene when he offered him $21,000 and a years’ free rent if he accepted his eviction immediately.

Consulting his lawyer, Raquel Fox, Yañez was informed about the legal extension and proceeded to successfully apply for it. Even without her advice, though, Yañez would not have accepted Iantorno’s offer. As Rio explained, that amount is nowhere near enough for Rene and Cynthia Yañez to get another place in San Francisco, especially in the neighborhood that they call home.

“They are in their 70s. They aren’t looking for a huge buyout so that they can start a new life,” Rio told us.

Comments

The tenants should take it and be grateful. Why should an owner have to pay to get his own home back?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

they currently pay, what the market rent for their unit is, and how long they have enjoyed that subsidy.

I suspect they have saved tens of thousands of dollars in rent over the decades - maybe hundreds of thousands - and it was surely inevitable that an owner can no longer sustain losses of that magnitude.

They've had a good run, and moving on can maybe help them hold their heads high and know that they are supporting themselves for the first time in their life.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

That is none of your business. The point is, they paid their rent for decades on time. The owner probably has his original mortgage paid off thanks to them. If speculators buy it at insane prices and want to flip it that is not the fault of the tenants. Give them some credit, eh? In most "meritocracies" being a good person and promptly paying would give you respect. Amongst greedy SF landlords you're some kind of parasite.

Aren't the owners who don't even live and contribute anything to the city, the real parasites?

Posted by Sigmarlin on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:19 am

$450 a month!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:56 am

(or was)

The tenants are the ones paying the subsidy, to the parasitic landlord who is collecting far more than he needs to cover expenses and even make a profit.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:10 am

Mortgage + Property Taxes + Insurance + Maintenance + ??

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:27 am

and yet he feels he can decide how much profit they could and should make?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

"artists" for decades. Finally he has decided that enough is enough. This is exactly why we passed the Ellis Act - to allow landlords a pathway out of a lifetime of subsidies and handouts.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:34 am

How dare you demean these people who have contributed to the cultural and artistic vibrancy of this city for DECADES?

You put "artists" in quotes and imply that they've received handouts? What "handouts," exactly, are these?

Have you thought for a moment about the arc of *why* the Mission has become the "desirable" neighborhood it now is?

Could it possibly have anything to do with its (currently severely threatened) status as a diverse, culturally, artistically and culinarily vibrant place?

And what kind of people made it that way in the first place? What similar value have you provided to the city of San Francisco? Oh yeah, but these people are parasites, living on handouts. It is people like you who embody the cultural death of San Francisco for the rest of us.

Posted by David M. on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

this is simply a barrier against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by wally on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

The Mission is desirable because it's sunny, has many beautiful Victorians, has excellent access to transportation, and is relatively affordable. Artists overestimate their importance.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

The primary reasons tenants in the Mission are being targeted for eviction by hundreds of employees from Apple, HP, Oracle, Yahoo, Facebook and Google are because it's close to Hwy 101, has access to Caltrain, and is a much more interesting neighborhood, with better transit and walkable streets, than those in the southern sections of the city. But mostly evictions occur in the Mission since property speculators have been buying up Mission apartment buildings over the past 20 years and now they're selling off the apartments/buildings to maximize profits.

The questions we should be asking is, where are the City Hall hearings with executives from these and other major Silicon Valley employers asking why the executives aren't builidng housing near the companies? Where are the City Hall hearings with politicians from Cupertino, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, Palo Alto and Foster City asking why these cities aren't building housing for the tens of thousands of workers who work in their cities? Where is the moratorium on all non-fault evicitons until every company that employs at least 300 workers in the region provides housing for at least 75% of its employees within a 5 mile radius of their operations so that the employees can walk, bike or take a jitney to work?

Once again it's the politicians, wealthy landlords and big businesses that work together behind the scenes to make housing unaffordable to most households and increase housing insecurity, where every tenant is one month away from an eviction notice since their apartment can be sold to a much wealthier resident who works at one of these massive technology corporations.

It's time to drag the CEO's and CFO's into SF City Hall and demand answers about why their business operations are creating havoc and dislocation for existing SF tenants, and what they are specifically doing to build housing for at least 75% of their empoyees within a short radius of their workplaces.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 6:34 am

poor Hispanic artists. Most of the interesting stuff in the Mission is done by white people, like the upscale restaurants.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 6:29 am

That's hilarious. Like white people making a living on hip Mexican food. Culture vultures. It's always brown in the kitchen brother.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 2:05 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

How dare you demean these people who have contributed to the cultural and artistic vibrancy of this city for DECADES?

You put "artists" in quotes and imply that they've received handouts? What "handouts," exactly, are these?

Have you thought for a moment about the arc of *why* the Mission has become the "desirable" neighborhood it now is?

Could it possibly have anything to do with its (currently severely threatened) status as a diverse, culturally, artistically and culinarily vibrant place?

And what kind of people made it that way in the first place? What similar value have you provided to the city of San Francisco? Oh yeah, but these people are parasites, living on handouts. It is people like you who embody the cultural death of San Francisco for the rest of us.

Posted by David M. on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

this is simply a barrier against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by wally on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

some of us risk our capital, our energy and (at times) our sanity to provide people like you with housing services.

But for the possibility of making a better return on our capital than elsewhere, you would be homeless.

Nobody would buy SF RE if the same return was available in some risk-free investment. The profit is crucial for the viability of the enterprise.

Posted by anon on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:39 am

They have been living on borrowed time for decades.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:35 am

you missed the entire point of the article.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 6:58 am

What kind of insanity is that?

Cities and neighborhoods change all the time. Change with them or ebd up being a victim.

Ellis evictions may be increasing but it still only affects just a few hundred people every year. It is not the huge deal being made out here.

And many landlords are suffering because of rent control as well, and they need relief. Only Ellis gives that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

whites?

Can someone explain that? Is a racist thing?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

economically and socially and therefore need more protection from those more severe barriers

and in addition to this, many latinos are undocumented making their housing situation inherently more precarious to start with

finally, we seek to retain strong ethnic neighborhoods in San Francisco to give the city more culture, and depth of experience

with that said, whites subject to eviction have plenty of allies in the city

Posted by racer x on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

been outlawed under law almost everywhere?

You need to stop seeing everything in terms of race and skin color. It's very unhealthy.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

whites', first of all is not an ethninicy, 'it' among other ethnic/culture terminology is are outdated 'racist' terms.....Caucasian is congruent with Hispanics, African America, Asian....or other specific areas of orgin

Posted by scoson on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:11 am

not from studies of anthropology or other disciplines.

White, black, brown and yellow are readily understood by all.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 8:33 am

Seems a little harsh to dismiss anyone using a cell phone as a zombie. But then again, I'm not given to prejudicial stereotypes.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

Every year, thousands of RC units vanish because of OMI's, TIC's, Ellis, condo conversion and other reasons. But not one new unit of RC housing is ever created as post-79 construction is exempt by law.

So it may take another decade or two but we will arrive at the point where a plurality of SF residents will not be covered by rent control, and then all this nonsense can go away and we can all get on with the serious business of making money and achieving the American dream.

A policy predicated on subsidies and entitlement will always fail in the end.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

The community should find a way to help Yañez purchase his apartment as a TIC. He will then have security as well as something to leave to his son.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

Maybe he should have invested in a down payment.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

Here is the link to this short video, which was donated to MAC - the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition - and later was re-edited and used as a trailer for, Boom: The Sound of Eviction (which is still way too relevant.) ... http://youtu.be/A1ti_VFNlCc

Posted by Mission Mango Man on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:30 am

the more things change, the more they remain the same...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:03 am

grim, squalid and down-at-heel as it was 20 years ago.

Gentrification isn't close to being a problem just because the odd building here and there gets an upgrade.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:36 am

It has changed quite a bit in the last twenty years.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

24th Street has changed more, I'll admit, but is still overwhelmingly hispanic.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:57 pm
Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

You're just going to have to make your point the old fashioned way.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

and it's a python video... the only way to make the joke is to show the video

Posted by barrier on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

I'm a big python fan - who knew we had something in common?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

you should then be able to figure it out

from my intro to the link

which was, as you may recall

"Ni!"

(with which i was playing off of your misspelling of your previous subject line)

Posted by racer x on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

Bring me a shrubbery.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

NIce, racist choice of adjective.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

What about significant", "substantial" and "measurable"? Also racist?

You crack me up.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 9:28 am

Greetings, Rene is actually in this short little video from the Mission ... back in 1999/2000 ... "Mission Eviction" ... http://youtu.be/A1ti_VFNlCc

Posted by Jeff Taylor on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:33 am

I'm so down with protecting renters from gentrification but I don't get this part of the article, "When the Museum of Modern Art rejected the work of a little-known Mexican woman, it was Yañez who gave a young Frida Kahlo a space to exhibit her paintings."

A young Frida Khalo? She died in her 40's in the 1950's. She came to SF in the 30's at a time when she was already getting world wide recognition. He would have to be at least 90 years old for this timeline to work out. Am I missing something here?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:34 am

Propaganda and Myth-making

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:02 am

"A young Frida Khalo? She died in her 40's in the 1950's. She came to SF in the 30's at a time when she was already getting world wide recognition. He would have to be at least 90 years old for this timeline to work out."

Making stuff up is allowed when it advances the Narrative!

Posted by LOL barrier! on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:12 am

She died almost 60 years ago and was, as you said, already well known in the 1930's.

So, trying to make some sense of the SFBG 'reporting', let's say that Yanez perhaps helped her with space in 1931 (even thought she didn't need the help). Assuming that he was an extremely precocious 15 years old at the time that puts his birthdate at 1916. Which makes him 97 years old today. And that is if you bend the facts to an extreme degree.

One thing about the SFBG 'reporting', it does have really good entertainment value.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

She died in 1954, so I think that if Rene Yanez had been giving a 'young Frida Kahlo' an opportunity, he likely would not have been born yet.

But I hope he can stay in his home. I saw him "roasted" (honored) at the de Young a few years ago. But even if he were unknown, this should not happen to him. This should happen to nobody.

Posted by Sue on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

At least it is unlikely that Yañez will turn out to have owned a home in Portland for years, unlike one prior SFBG eviction "martyr".

Posted by LOL barrier! on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:11 am

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