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

and not always skillfully. What does it matter if an evictee is Hispanic, gay or what they do for a living?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:37 am

on the equity and had never made an actual payment

Posted by matlock on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

She'd managed to own a home since something like 1973, and still couldn't make a dime out of it, because she used it as an ATM.

Evictions and foreclosures are god's way of punishing the inept and clueless.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

Ending Rent Control will help families and help SF. It would make the Mission and other parts of the city better.
Does no one (this whole family -- of the artist, his adult girlfriend, his wife and his Adult Son) not take any personal responsibility for saving money and moving to another place! Or going to buy something on their own. (they pay almost nothing $450/2bedroom apt).
You made a CHOICE to be an artist, No One gets a free pass, Handouts, welfare, etc just so you can paint on walls.
Communist Ted Guillible of the 'union' for tenants is out of his mind. IF he cares about this issue, then why doesn't HE PAY for them to live with him? Right -- he's all about spending other people's money.

Save protest for real issues. "victims" begging for money while they are able bodied and able to work is a sad state. Everyone wants to complain -- but put your money where your mouth is. Supply and demand economics.

Posted by EndRentControl-StopCrazyRentersfromSquatting on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

as happened in Boston when they abolished it.

That's the dirty little secret that the non-profits do not want you to know.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:58 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 8:10 am

Obviously rents for previous controlled apartments went up.

But the average rent for a vacant apartment went down. Because far more supply suddenly and miraculously came out of the woodwork.

Tenant activists who whine about landlords keeping tens of thousands of SF properties off the market because of rent control would surely understand how and why that happened.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 9:23 am

If this guy is such a famous artist, why doesn't he sell a painting for a million dollars?

More importantly ... if he showed Frida Kahlo at his gallery and didn't pick up a painting or two ... he's an idiot! Do idiots deserve rent control?

No way Jose!!

Posted by Let's Be Real on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

Not everything bad that happens to a Hispanic person is racist or ethnicist in origin.

The Ellis Act is being invoked in every San Francisco neighborhood to every type of person. I have pity on all Ellis Act casualties except when I hear whining about a group or a neighborhood being picked on. My support ends there. My pity does not go away.

If being a good person assured that only good things happened to them, then good people would put the state lottery out of business.

Choosing to be an artist in one of the most expensive cities in the world, without a good day job backup, is hazardous. This is a unwritten rule that is known or should, reasonably be known to even the most naive adult. Thinking that the rules don't apply to you is folly. Thinking that, if you look the other way for 20 years, it won't happen to you is a fool's outlook. Thinking that you get a pass because you're an artiste rarely works out in life.

Consider the facts of life. Owning property is not owning a charity or a flop house or a commune. This silly notion of "tip toeing" so as not to jeopardize your rent control is the childish. Tenants not bothering the landlord with notice of building break-ins and assuming repair of the premises is not an accrual of good faith against the business reality of the landlords costs and need to make a profit. Some people believe that, if they don't make waves, their landlord will forget about them. Being a good tenant does not contribute to some sort of bank account that collects interest. If this were not the case, a good landlord should be able to illegally evict a bad tenant.

I am a long time San Francisco renter, and I do not own, nor does anyone in my family own, any real estate anywhere.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

And it's all for my town, my one and only town,
It's all for my own San Francisco,
If they think it's all 'For Sale', then let's show 'em that they'll fail,
And raise our voices loud all together!

Well, we all pay the rent, the risin', risin' rent,
Here in our own San Francisco,
But if only billionaires can live here payin' theirs,
Then you and me are going to have to wander!

SInce it's all for the town, our one and only town,
It's all for our own San Francisco,
We won't let them buy us out, that's what it's all about,
And let our city disappear forever!

Oh where's City Hall, where we're going to pay a call,
And don't they have a care for San Francisco?
They just want to masturbate in their dream of Real Estate -
We're going to show them it's not over!

And it's all for the streets, the lively, lively streets,
It's all for our own San Francisco,
Where we live and work and play, but they'll steal it all away,
Unless we stand and shout out, "No!" together!

They want to bring in chains, for their profits and their gains,
They want to bring 'em in to San Francisco,
When they fill up all the space, you're not goin' to know the place,
When it's just like L.A. or Fresno!

And it's all about eviction in the City's jurisdiction,
When they won't let you live in San Francisco,
They use the Ellis Act, and they hope you'll just get packed
And disappear for good without a whimper!

And it's condo conversions, their favorite perversions
They're using to clear out San Francisco,
With the longtime tenants gone, they can push their program on,
Until you see your friends and neighbors never!

It's all for the loot that they steal and persecute
Whoever tries to stay in San Francisco,
And we'll call a Spade a Spade when their jack is widely played,
And never be distracted by their blather!

If the Mayor of the town doesn't care how it goes down,
And the Supervisors sell out San Francisco,
We'll make the speculators see they have to go through you and me
Before they can start construction on the corner!

All the while they gentrify, as the City starts to die,
We still won't just say good bye to San Francisco,
We will make our voices heard, so help us spread the word,
And save our special City from the dumpster!

It ain't a new boutique or fancy restaurant we seek,
When we go out in San Francisco,
It's our own community, where we have a right to be -
So let 'em hear it now and forever!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

Official Dogma of the San Francisco Rent Control Cult….

1. Landlords are more evil than child molesters, serial killers and rapists… COMBINED!

2. We demonize landlords to make it socially acceptable to strip them of their property and reposition it for our personal use. (Just how the Nazi's started out initially with the Jews, before they upped the ante and started gassing them)

3. We use the canard of "Compassion" to try and shame and make others think it's amoral to control and use the property they are the rightful owners of. That by our theft and seizure of their property, they magically become "good" people. (this does not work well with anyone who has brains, but luckily for us there are plenty who don't).

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 6:19 am

although they are poor and so could not normally live in a desirable and expensive place like SF, they should be allowed to anyone, on someone else's dime of course, just because they think they are important and deserving.

The irony is that the people who most crave these subsidies are those who contribute the least to the city (they are poor, remember?). They are less productive than others, contribute less economically, pay less taxes and consume more services. They are a net drain on the city and yet they demand the entitlement to live somewhere "hip" and "cool" just because those epithets are important to them.

Fuck them.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

Official Dogma of the San Francisco Rent Control Cult….

1. Landlords are more evil than child molesters, serial killers and rapists… COMBINED!

2. We demonize landlords to make it socially acceptable to strip them of their property and reposition it for our personal use. (Just how the Nazi's started out initially with the Jews, before they upped the ante and started gassing them)

3. We use the canard of "Compassion" to try and shame and make others think it's amoral to control and use the property they are the rightful owners of. That by our theft and seizure of their property, they magically become "good" people. (this does not work well with anyone who has brains, but luckily for us there are plenty who don't).

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 6:15 am

Well put.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 9:21 am

The community should start an Indiegogo or kickstarter fund to purchase a house in SF for him and his family.

Posted by Babkat on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 9:35 am

oppose these evictions is that they NEVER want to do anything tangible to help the evicted persons, whether it be funds, offering to share their home, volunteering to rehabilitate a home, or start a co-operative housing venture that might offer affordable housing.

But they will spend hundreds of hours trying to shame, blackmail or intimidate others into continuing to subsidize those who would like to live in Sf but also know they cannot really afford it.

The word "hypocrisy" springs readily to mind.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 10:18 am

Perhaps Yañez was the first to introduce white divorced women considering experimenting with lesbianism to Kahlo, just as queer and punk and bohemians of a few decades ago were the first to make the Mission a destination for white people...again.

But seriously, the list of groups sponsoring this march is the same list of groups that leverage popular energies into chits that they can trade to sell us out.

In no way are any of these groups poised to put a ban on market rate housing as they pledged during the march.

In no way will any of these groups put the interests of most non-rich San Franciscans ahead of the interests of the groups because of economic and ethnic prejudices that they cannot or will not shake.

There has to be a web of solidarity made to envelop these campaigns such that we all stand for one and one stands for all otherwise we're going to see the same cooption that put the kibosh on the last popular uprising kill this one in its crib--the Mayor threatens to cut off X, Y and Z nonprofits unless they accede to the forces of gentrification and corporate dominance that are wringing our Mission dry.

I am so thankful that my housing security is not dependent upon the actions of these groups.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 6:09 am

Moreover, not building housing never helped house anyone - rich or poor.

You are fighting the wrong battles. We need more market-rate housing to take the pressure off existing housing which will otherwise be overrun by the affluent.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 7:23 am

Speakers at this event made that pledge.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 7:53 am

but it makes no difference at all to anything.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2013 @ 9:47 am

Its pretty amazing that we can cherry pick a date in time for a particular place and claim that one person helped "make it"

Really? Maybe this person influenced an era, but that is one era and the mission has been around longer than this particular person.

The flailing that this paper and anti housing activists are going through lately is painful to watch.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

The Tenants Union fights the only fair solution: Means Testing. Every year tenants with discounted rents would simply need to show they qualify for whatever the parameters are of who rent control is to help. It was supposed to be for working class people who also live in they city. Instead, we all know it is many who do not work in the city, many who have large salaries, and or assets - real estate elsewhere, investment funds, who know they have a good deal and feel entitled to keep it. Many don't work in the city. So, instead, the TU strategy is to pass laws to make it harder for anyone with a rent controlled apt to be evicted -- regardless of they fit any criteria rent control as for. Net effect - landlords have no reason to subsidize a system which makes no effort to provide only to those who need help. Hence, around 12% of all apts which would be on the market, are kept empty. how many homes and arts sit empty by freaked out landlords. And, how many rent controlled tenants have more space then they need and often do not even need assistance, but aren't stupid and will keep the apt till they die if they can. To say that this system does not help drive up rents is ridiculous. And, it doesn't even efficiently help the groups it was designed for.

Posted by Ray on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

This statement needs some clarification: "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." Mr. Yañez was only 12 or 13 years old at the time of Frida Kahlo's death in 1954.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

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