Go do this thing tomorrow: Speak up for Viracocha


If you've ever set foot in Viracocha, the Never-Never-Land-esque antiques store/typewriter shop/arts space/music venue at 21st and Valencia, you know it's a pretty magical place — especially in contrast to some of the shiny new businesses springing up around it in the Mission as of late. Read more »

Swing away -- Urban Putt opens today!


After a sneak peek and a couple of delays, Urban Putt finally opens at 4pm today. The high concept mini-golf course, restaurant, and bar combination arrives just in time for some Cinco de Drinko fiesta time.

The former mortuary at South Van Ness and 22nd Streets is freshly coated with a new paint job that seamlessly blends with the neighborhood. There’s nothing flashy about Urban Putt from the outside but as you step inside, you’re transported into a gadgety, steampunk world — a techie’s Disneyland.

The elaborate 14-hole golf course designed by the guys behind Mission Bowling Club can hold 40 golfers at a time, so expect a wait list as long as Nopa’s on a Friday night. Golfers start out at the Earthquake Hole where they navigate around Lotta’s Fountain and moving buildings into a fire hydrant hole. Expect kitschy San Francisco references scattered around the course: a Transamerica windmill, the Day of the Dead hole, and a robot hole built by the people from Make Magazine. Several other of our city’s landmarks also make an appearance.

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Wired measures tech bus trips in a day


The vaunted Google Bus pilot program is now in legal limbo as local activists appeal the deal to regulate the shiny behomoths, on environmental grounds. As we wait and see what the next step will be, one technology journalist decided to figure out for himself what the SFMTA says the pilot program aims to do: track the number of tech buses running around San Francisco.Read more »

Tee time: a peek inside Urban Putt, the Mission's indoor mini-golf course


On the back wall of the main room of the old Victorian building at 1096 S. Van Ness is a sculpture of two creepy angels. One holds the other in its arms, their wings keeping them up. These angels are part of the original construction of the building, back when it functioned as a mortuary. Perhaps due to the haunting angels, perhaps due to the thought of a dead body storage center, the building has sat empty on the corner of South Van Ness and 22nd Streets for 15 years.

Today, the angels are still there and the building’s new owner has no intention of taking them down. “We will preserve as much as we can from this old look,” says Steve Fox, the man behind San Francisco’s first indoor mini-golf course, Urban Putt, set to open in April. The “high-concept” course will feature a restaurant with “eclectic California comfort cuisine” upstairs and two bars with a “creative bar program,” according to Urban Putt’s most recent press release. 

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The Tamale Lady finds a home


The Tamale Lady, aka Virginia Ramos, finally has a restaurant to call her own (for real this time).

Mission Local reported today that Supervisor David Campos has secured a storefront for the Mission's favorite bar-hopping foor purveyor, a location at 16th and Mission. 

Sup. Campos' aide Nate Albee confrimed the move with Mission Local:

“It will be her very own place,” Albee says. “We pulled out all the stops, and it took six months, but we found a place.”Read more »

Anti-eviction rally in the Mission tomorrow supporting the Mission and Rene Yanez


Tomorrow (Sat/12 at 2pm) advocates and defenders of working class San Francisco will march to protest a rash of recent Mission evictions, including the potential ouster of artists and activists Rene Yañez and Yolanda Lopez from their Mission district home. 

The organizers want the mayor to declare a state of emergency in the city as the recent Ellis Act evictions have intensified -- 125 Ellis Act eviction notices have been filed this year, with the most recent numbers going to the end of August, according to the SF Rent Board. But 175 requests for Ellis Act evictions were filed, meaning 70 percent of Ellis evictions were upheld. The march follows recent wins against gentrification, including blocking a Jack Spade store from opening in the Mission

Organizer Roberto Y. Hernandez said that since he announced the march he’s been getting calls of support from all over the city, but most notably in Chinatown, the Bayview, and the Castro. 

“I heard horror stories of what's happening to the gay community in the Castro,” he said. “This doesn’t just affect the Mission, this affects the whole city.” 

Each of those evictions represents a person or family whose ouster from their apartments may mean ouster from San Francisco altogether. Ellis evictions gained more notoriety this year, first with the plight of the Lee family and now the ouster of Mission artists Yañez and Lopez. 

Yañez is widely credited with bringing the celebration of Day of the Dead to the city. He co-founded the Mission’s Galeria de la Raza and practiced art in his home of the Bay Area since the 60s. Now, while suffering from cancer, the 71 year old is being forced from the neighborhood he helped to shape. Lopez, his former wife, is an artist with deep roots in the Chicano/a movements of the ‘60s, and is facing eviction as well. 

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Community forum planned on Mission gentrification


The recent debate about high-end retailer Jack Spade seeking to open up shop in the former location of Adobe Books has placed concerns about gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission District to the front burner yet again.

To spark a dialogue about an appropriate community response to the changing fabric of the neighborhood, community activists have organized a discussion forum scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23.Read more »

The Mission 'douchebags'


Okay, you have to read this. When a 1990s tech-startup guy who admits he was part of the last generation of gentrification is now so fed up with the new arrival of high-paid techies that he's ready to leave, it's pretty serious.

Chris Tacy makes an excellent point: When you move into the Mission, you need to understand that there are already other people living there, some of whom have been there a long time, and that it isn't just you're rich-kids playground:Read more »

Weekend watch: 2 ways to mark this SF moment in the Mission [UPDATED]


As of late, it seems as though the cries of anti-displacement activists and small business owners threatened with dramatic address changes have penetrated the city's consciousness: San Francisco has woken up to the fact that the town is changing, and how. But amid the smashing of Google bus piñatas and -- albeit hilarious -- echo chamber of bloggers placing and sloughing off blame from the young tech royalty, there are community-based, heartfelt attempts being made at contextualizing soaring rents and shifting cultural majorities.

There's two happening in the Mission, in fact. Regardless of your programming aptitude or discretionary budget, they'll both provide moments to learn about where San Francisco is coming from, and a moment to reflect on where it's going. Read more »

Can we have cool new additions without gentrifying the Mission?


Do livability and gentrification go hand-in-hand? In other words, as you improve a neighborhood like the Valencia Street corridor with bike lanes, wide sidewalks, parklets, and other improvements that are part of the so-called “livability agenda,” does that necessarily drive up rents and force out the working class?Read more »