San Francisco Latino Art Center Ups Pressure in Lease Negotiations

Staff members and allies of the Galeria de la Raza rally outside the apartment of the family that owns their building on Saturday, November 3, 2018.  (Sonja Hutson/KQED)

One of the Bay Area's leading Latino art galleries is ramping up the pressure on its landlord in their lease negotiations.

On Saturday morning, staff members of San Francisco's Galería de la Raza rallied outside their building owner's apartment.

The Galería has been at the same location on the corner of 24th and Bryant streets in the Mission for the past 46 years. This summer, Galería’s landlord proposed doubling the $3,127 rent for the approximately 5,000-square-foot space. The property is owned by the Lily Ng Trust and managed by GBA Realty.

Galería de la Raza is located at 2857 24th St. in San Francisco’s Mission district. (Sonja Hutson/KQED)

The nonprofit countered, asking for a slower scale-up in cost or to rent a quarter of the space instead at the same price.

Two weeks ago, San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen got involved and tried to bring the two sides to an agreement.

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"Let's put down the greed for a moment and realize there are larger more important issues like how meaningful this organization is to the entire community in the mission," Ronen said.

Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission on the Board of Supervisors, speaks at a Saturday rally to pressure Galeria de la Raza's landlord to come back to the negotiating table. (Sonja Hutson/KQED)

But talks broke down when the Galería refused to pay for accessibility improvements, because they are planning to move in two years to a new space they can afford.

Ani Rivera is the Galería's Executive Director.  On Saturday, she held a sign outside the building owners' apartment that reads "We stand with Galería."

Ani Rivera is Galeria de la Raza's Executive Director. She hopes this rally demonstrates "what Galeria's about." (Sonja Hutson/KQED)

"So we are here to today to sort of try to send a message, show them what the arts are about, what Galería 's about, the community they would be displacing," Rivera said.

The building's property manager, Quan Phan, called the rally "outrageous."

According to Phan, the family is raising the rent to cover the skyrocketing cost of maintaining sidewalks, sewer lines and trees.

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"They're finally asking for a little bit contribution and all of a sudden they become a greedy landlord," Phan said.

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