Galería de la Raza Faces Imminent Eviction After Failed Negotiations

Supporters of the nonprofit Latinx gallery like Supervisor Hillary Ronen are campaigning for "fair and reasonable lease" in hopes that the landlord will come back to the table.

Ani Rivera, executive director of Galería de la Raza, tells a crowd of supporters that the nonprofit Latinx is once again seeking a longterm lease for its 46-year-old space on 24th Street. (Photo by Ida Mojadad)

Galería de la Raza turned a rent dispute public on Monday in an attempt to bring the landlord of its 46-year-old home on 24th Street back to the negotiating table. 

Supporters of the 48-year-old Latinx gallery is calling on its landlord to meet them in the middle with compromises after negotiations fell apart to remain a tenant at 2858 24th St., at Bryant Street. Despite efforts to obtain a long-term lease, Galería de la Raza has operated month-to-month at its 2858 24th St. space and received a notice in June that its rent would be doubled.

“How are we expected to plan? How are we expected to survive?” Ani Rivera, executive director of Galería de la Raza asked a crowd of supporters outside on Monday. “It’s a lot of uncertainty.”

For the same rent, Galería de la Raza was able to remain at its significantly smaller Studio 24 space next door at 2851 24th Street. That rent increase escalated to a three-day notice to pay the increase or vacate the premises earlier this month, which is when the nonprofit gallery’s leadership brought in city representatives.

The latest and possibly last art display at Galería de la Raza in the Mission District on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Hillary Ronen and her office joined negotiations with property manager GVA Realty Group, which declined the offer that would have secured a two-year lease and surrendered a third of the gallery’s remaining space for the same monthly rate of roughly $3,000. In 2015, Galería de la Raza offered to pay $500,000 in capital improvements for a longterm lease but different managers declined then with no clear reasons, according to Rivera.

“Galería has been willing to compromise and give and give and give,” Ronen told the crowd. “We’ve not seen the landlord, on the other hand, budge. Galeria cannot possibly give anymore.”

Galería supporters are hoping that bringing it to the larger public’s attention will send a message to the landlord that this will be a large fight, Ronen said. And as a legacy business, Galeria’s eviction would mean putting the property through the Planning Commission for a conditional use authorization.

The landlord withdrew the three-day notice when the city stepped in but Rivera fears another one could come at any moment. With the help of Mission Economic Development Agency, Galería de la Raza is planning to remain on 24th Street regardless — but staying rooted at its longtime home is a high priority.

“It’s one of the reasons we have a cultural district,” said Erick Arguello, president of Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, at the press conference Monday. “It’s an anchor [and] it’s part of our identity.”

Mayor London Breed also supports the effort, announcing Monday that she directed the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to exhaust every option to secure a “fair and reasonable lease” for Galería de la Raza. The gallery is holding an emergency community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday to ramp up organizing. 

“Whatever happens, Galería de la Raza will not go away,” Rivera said, advising supporters to keep the art coming. “Be bold, be creative, and above all, be fabulous.”

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