Activists Rally as Precita Eyes Studio Building on Precita Park Is Listed For Sale


Brace yourself: 348 Precita Avenue, the building on the south side of Precita Park that houses the small Precita Eyes mural studio, is for sale. Now Precita Eyes is organizing to discourage potential market-rate buyers:

Dear Friends of Precita Eyes,

Some of you may already know Precita Eyes Muralists’ studio on 348 Precita ave. is on the market for sale. We need your support to protest the sale to shake off competing bidders, BECAUSE A LOCAL HOUSING NON PROFITS ARE PLACING A BID TO BUY OUR BUILDING.

We ask you to talk about our 38 year old organization and our involvement in our community to potential bidders. Mention that the tenants above have lived there 30 plus years and they have no means to move.

Open house dates:
This Tuesday, August 25th (2:30-4pm) & Wednesday, August 26th (4-5pm)

We plan to have a FREE TODDLER ART CLASS & URBAN YOUTH ARTS during that time. It will be volunteered by our Toddler Art teacher Priya!!

Our Urban Youth Art Teacher Max will be present to create protest posters with the youth simultaneously.


MEDA is the Mission-based organization that has been active in the effort to block construction of new mixed-rate housing near the 16th St. BART station. In addition, MEDA also played a hands-on role in putting the Mission Housing Moratorium on the November ballot.

Prediction: This will be heated. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: In the comments, there’s some confusion about the Precita Eyes action plan. which appears to involve press outreach and an effort to “shake off competing bidders.”

If the recent sale of the Pigeon Palace property in the Mission is any guide, Prectia Eyes likely seeks to generate publicity about their organization, and the pending sale of 314 Precita, as part of an effort to discourage would-be market-rate purchasers from making offers for the building.  Eliminating other potential bidders would make MEDA’s effort to purchase 314 Precita more competitive. Precita Eyes is apparently working with MEDA to help purchase the building.

PHOTO: Precita Eyes on Facebook

87 thoughts on “Activists Rally as Precita Eyes Studio Building on Precita Park Is Listed For Sale

      • By protesting out front? By sending mean letters? I still don’t understand how this is supposed to work. Why would a determined buyer pay any attention to protestors? I just think there has to be a better way to support Precita Eyes staying in that building than yelling at potential buyers.

      • “I still don’t understand how this is supposed to work.”

        Hey, I didn’t say it would “work”. But it is probably the only disincentive they can provide, in their situation.

      • I assumed Precita Eyes were the owners of the building but I suppose that’s not the case. Makes more sense now 🙂

    • The owner COULD accept the bid of their long time tenant and move on. But if they have chosen to try a sale, then the group and community can choose to show up and protest at open houses to educate potential buyers about the role of that space in the neighborhood. Hopefully with that additional information about Precita Eyes 30 year history in the neighborhood, potential buyers will move on themselves.

    • If that’s what the seller wanted to do, absolutely.

      MEDA wants the seller to sell the building to them for a discount, which would also be entirely within the sellers right to do so if that’s what they wanted to do. If the seller wants to just sell the place to the highest bidder that is also entirely within their right to do so.

      I just don’t think that protesting to block bidders is the right way to go about this.

  1. NIMBY organization doesn’t want to pay full rate so brings in protesters to harass other buyers. nice.

      • Okay it’s not NIMBY, it’s IMBY! Still controlling. Still sleazy tactics.

        Ye want the bldg MEDA? Pay the highest bid.

        Ye want a discount? Raise money to help you out. Don’t expect the property owner to subsidize your purchase. Shees.

    • Ah, the “Pigeon Palace” method. I’m sure it’ll work out great for them.

      If the non-profit wants to buy the place then put in a competitive offer and convince the current owner that they should sell to them. If you don’t have the cash then…raise more? If your cause is so righteous then certainly you can get people to donate, right?

      • If your cause is righteous, perhaps it serves a demographic that isn’t loaded with cash. Is that possible? Or is money the only righteous cause in SF in 2015?

      • Sure, there are causes worth supporting that aren’t flush with cash.

        However, this isn’t how economics and property is supposed to work. As a parallel example, if a cause really needs a large truck to operate, it wouldn’t seek protestors to go to a auto dealer and protest the price of their trucks. Rather they would go looking for a cheaper truck that fits within the budget they’ve managed to scrounge up, or perhaps they would look for a wealthy backer that supports their cause.

      • Adam – “this isn’t how economics and property is (sic) supposed to work” …. as designed by whom?

      • As designed by the elected representatives that put real estate laws in place.

        I’m not saying I don’t support Precita Eyes, I like the work they do. However this sort of protest action rubs me the wrong way. I understand that there are lots of folks on here that don’t like the capitalist basis of our economy, but given that is the economy we are working within it would seem to me that the correct approach to causes like this would be to fundraise in an attempt for this non-profit to be the highest bidder on the property. I’d probably be willing to donate some bucks to that specific cause.

      • Adam – no one is breaking any real estate laws. They are going to “work” just fine and probably don’t need you to defend them against other forms of legal action.

        I still really can’t tell what you’re claiming is not working the way it should.

        But seriously, you make a good point that if we just started a kickstarter page for every disenfranchised family or non-profit in this city and posted the effort on a blog or two, we could really solve their problems for them.

      • “They are going to “work” just fine and probably don’t need you to defend them against other forms of legal action.”

        That is indeed possible. They may well succeed in convincing other parties that this is yet another building in SF with an aggressive tenant that will make things miserable enough for you that you should move on to the next building.

        Of course, this strategy of protecting current renters by making renting any sort of property in SF to be pretty much the least appealing thing imaginable seems like a really bad thing in the long term, and will probably eventually ensure no one else will ever have a chance to rent an apartment here. But hey, it might work in the short term, for you and yours.

      • BP – “they” refers to existing real estate laws, or in the words of Adam “how economics and property is supposed to work”.

        Again, reading comprehension please before posting replies.

    • That was unfortunate- you just lost all credibility. Is name calling how you go about raising community awareness?

      • Looks like the original post was deleted…which means your response now makes no sense. I can vouch for you though, ESME was crude & adolescent and lost all credibility

      • I’m just really tired of this blog and its horrendous followers acting like the (tone policing) voice of Bernal Heights. Sorry you were offended~

      • Todd’s on the north side, which is really more mission than Bernal, and some people would say that his blog is compensation for feelings of Bernal inadequacy.

        There are nice city views on the north side, but I think of Cortland as Bernal’s heart, and I like the wide streets (for the most part) west of Andover between Cortland and Crescent. That area is the jewel of Bernal.

      • “Todd’s on the north side, which is really more mission than Bernal, and some people would say that his blog is compensation for feelings of Bernal inadequacy.”

        Who would say that? weird concept.

      • Someone who doesn’t live on the north side? In fact, I bet it’s someone that lives “west of Andover between Cortland and Crescent…the jewel of Bernal”. 🙂

  2. It would be a sad day if Precita Eyes left it’s place overlooking Precita Park. I’m not sure from this information how to help. It’s a little confusing. Can somebody clarify, please? Is there a meeting or other way to get involved?

  3. Non profit on nonprofit violence!

    I’m surprised (although I guess I shouldn’t be) that Precita Eyes doesn’t own the building, Anyone know how long they’ve been there? Seems like they’ve always had that space in the twenty years I’ve been in the neighborhood.

  4. Oh I think I’ve read it wrong, Precita Eyes wants MEDA to get the building from the owners, and is trying to discourage other people from submitting bids. That makes more sense.

  5. This makes no sense. I would love Precita Eyes to stay however nothing remains the same so why should the owner be punished for selling their property.

    • I’m really tired of all the comments by people like you on this blog, appropriating zen buddhism to assuage your white guilt. “Nothing remains the same”, “The only thing that is constant is change”, etc. etc. I hear it here all the time, and of course it’s almost always about real estate! Well guess what hasn’t changed? Pulling the rug out from under brown people in order to make white people more wealthy. That’s a constant, and it’s going on here today and has been going on since the dawn of history. Please stop with the intentionally hypocritical poseur attitude; it’s rampant on this blog.

      • b – Get out of here with the disingenuousness. You read this blog all the time and know the comments I’m talking about it. It’s about more than this.

      • @Danny B, you could take a sweet article about a new pastry company and turn it into some horrible race issue. How about you get out of here with your single-tracked agenda.

        To answer my own question YOU don’t know who owns that building. It may be a black family, a hispanic family, a lesbian, who knows? All you want to do is turn everything into a “Pulling the rug out from under brown people” issue. Hate to be the one to break it to you, but not every issue is a race issue.

      • b – in this world, race IS the issue. The point is that race is a constant amid the smokescreen of “everything changes” “nothing is forever” narrative, which hypocritically enough is most often used on this blog to apologize – by way of citing a philosophical ‘tenet’ – for the replication of neoliberalism.

        My “agenda” is not “single-tracked”, but I do have to say that thinking about race issues as “horrible” is.

        And you do know that “lesbian” isn’t a race, right?

      • @Danny B, In the same breath you say both “in this world, race IS the issue” and “My ‘agenda’ is not “single-tracked.” How can race be THE Issue, and additionally not be single tracked?

        Race is an issue, but not every issue is a race issue. See how that works? When race is an issue, the issue is usually ‘horrible.’ Getting humiliated, disenfranchised, persecuted, etc. Those are all horrible, so yes…horrible is the right word to use.

        Also, did you know that lesbians are minorities? Not all disenfranchisement happens to people of color. Sometimes it happens to trans people, or gay people, or people with physical disabilities. If you’re going to argue that selling this building on Precita is another example of ‘brown people’ getting the carpet pulled out from under them, what you’re talking about is disenfranchisement. Since you don’t know who owns that building, it’s possible that if this is an issue of disenfranchisement (which may not be the case), it MAY not be racial disenfranchisement.

        You’re the one turning the selling of a building into a race issue. That single tracked mind of your doesn’t realize that race isn’t THE issue every single time there is an issue. It is one issue. It’s a big issue, but it’s one of many that we have.

      • b – Ha, I was just pointing out that you’re adverse to talking about race, which is a VERY DANGEROUS attitude. Again b, I’m talking about a larger issue here with the justifications people make on the comments section of the blog. Take a look at the big picture.

        Also, you can find out who the owner is of any building in SF by looking at the assessor’s website. Take a look; you’ll see your accusation was for naught.

      • @Danny B, please enlighten us. Who owns the building on Precita? You see, this morning, before I even posted whether you knew who owned the building, I checked the Assessor’s website and no name was listed. Your astounding reading comprehension skills could be just the ticket to unlocking the secrets of their website.

      • b – “view documents”. Add that to the list of things you’ve learned me. But I don’t see a reason to drag the them into this; plus it’s not about them.

  6. I don’t understand why Bernalwood says this should be “heated”. Trying to foment tension? Is there really a contingent in this neighborhood that thinks we should lose Precita Eyes for another remodel?

    Precita Eyes is doing everything it can to stay. So what if they can’t pay top dollar? Community voices have the right, and some would say the obligation, to speak up for our neighbors/neighborhood. We don’t have to bow to the dollar in every sale in this city. Good grief.

    MEDA’s involvement is great news, much like the Pigeon Palace or Station 40 (SFCLT). We should be celebrating that those of us, including our community groups, without stacks of cash have OPTIONS to make our way in this town. Sometimes voices and community commitment matter more than dollars. This is going to be one of those times.

    The owner will still make a stack of cash, it just might be slightly smaller than if they went to the highest bidder.

    • “So what if they can’t pay top dollar?”

      The property owner probably wants top dollar.

      “We don’t have to bow to the dollar in every sale in this city”

      “We” don’t own the building.

  7. The author is so obsessed with the moratorium on housing so of course he has to throw in a jab at MEDA at the end. Would you prefer another boring restaurant at this location?

    • MEDA totally deserved that jab, with their self-serving yet short-sighted advocacy for the moratorium. The de facto moratoriums that we’ve had in neighborhoods all over SF are a big contributor to the pressures that groups like Precita Eyes are having now.

      • Moratoriums are a factor for why community organizations are being displaced and not…. speculator greed? I see.

      • Yes, the housing shortage in SF is significantly worsened by the fact that many neighborhoods in SF have basically banned all new development within their domain for the past couple of decades, while the city’s population has continued to increase at a fairly steady rate over that time.

        Do you see? I hope you do.

  8. Am I the only one who sees the irony of this. Precita Eyes wants to buy the building at a discount because the housing shortage in San Francisco has driven up the price…and yet their trying to compete against a non-profit housing organization. Frankly, may the best Non-Profit win! If the building was being sold to some gazillionare thehn I can understand the frustration, but who’s to say that Precita Eyes does more or less for the community than the local housing non-profit? I say if Precita Eyes wants to get into the real estate business and buy property then they should fork over the whole amount.

    • b – I want you to go back and reread this post from the beginning and then answer the following questions, so we can work on your reading comprehension skills:

      1. Who is MEDA?
      2. Does MEDA want to buy the building?
      3. Does Precita Eyes want to buy the building?
      4. Does Precita Eyes want MEDA to buy the building?

      • Well let’s begin with the update from Todd… “In the comments, there’s some confusion about the Precita Eyes action plan. which appears to involve press outreach and an effort to “shake off competing bidders.”

        WHAT? There was some confusion by a few readers? Well good thing we have our vary own, local condescending neighbor to make sure to shame anyone who got confused. Make sure not to let that happen again folks or Danny B will be there to make sure to quiz you on your education. Thank goodness we have Danny here who has never been wrong or confused in his entire life! What ever would we do without you?

      • b – if you didn’t have a history of hastily commenting without thinking or knowing the subject matter you’re talking about and not reading the comments above yours or the post you’re commenting on, I wouldn’t have said anything. This is a problem you have and you need to work on it…. I’m prepared to help you work through it.

  9. I took a number of classes at Precita Eyes after school, growing up. It was not only a great artistic and educational experience but also an important opportunity to interact with a very racially and economically diverse group of kids, some of whom are still my friends. If this is going to be a heated debate, would be interested to know who are the people in Bernal who want the building to be sold to an owner that will evict Precita? Real estate speculators who don’t live here? The author of this post? Please illuminate us, Todd.

  10. Does Precita Eyes really need two offices half a mile apart from each other? Most of the time I walk by the Precita location it is closed. Their other store front is in the protected Calle 24 zone, which presumably is safe from future eviction, so I wonder how they justify exerting pressure against their landlord to hang on to this additional facility.

  11. I also don’t feel protest and persuasion are the most effective way to go about this, but Precita Eyes (and its community of supporters) does not have deep pockets to draw from. In reaching out to people in an effort to mobilize a campaign that seems amorphous, they unfortunately are trying to appeal to something in precious low supply in Bernal (and SF in general): value in a community treasure.

    Having said that, I understand that partnering with MEDA raises eyebrows, as that organization has been central to the moratoriums on new construction in this area. But strange times–when Money Is King (and in Bernal it is King, Emperor, and Wizard)–call for strange bedfellows: How many of the Reagan Democrats in Bernal (many seem to either edit this blog or comment frequently) would have strummed sweet love songs for real estate speculators a decade ago? Now, if you own your home and don’t make sacrifices at the altars of the real estate gods, there is something deeply wrong with you (or so we are led to believe by the armchair economists who pop up on Bernalwood from time to time, when they take a break from leafing through Libertarian Weekly).

    This is a moment when the major issue of Modern Bernal–the real estate dream vs. real estate nightmare–is coming to a head, to see what the community will do. I use “community” in more of a sense of potentiality; how many people who bought a house in Bernal in the past several years really care of the studio survives or not? Who among them has ever walked inside? This is a fair question, as the existence of so much nonprofit (and artistic) life depends on who invests in it–in many ways, not only financially, but it does not hurt to make donations and use your money to support a place like this (disclosure: I have donated to Precita Eyes over the past decade, took classes there, and have encouraged many friends to look into their offerings).

    Precita Eyes was founded by the Cervantes, a husband and wife tandem with tremendous artistic gifts and with even a greater love of community. The surviving widow was issued an eviction notice (giving her three days to vacate) after her husband died. For 10 years, I have lived a half block from their abandoned, gutted, eyesore-of-a-construction project; anyone who lives or passes the area is now all too used to the extremely depressing sight (and site), though newbies do not know the dreary, wrenching history of what happened there, and instead just traipse their way to the Precita Park Cafe for whatever overpriced item on the menu. In many ways, the eternal construction blight is the face of today’s Bernal that people who tickle themselves by calling the ‘hood “sexy” and “glamorous” do not want to see: to gut the buildings, one also had to gut the lives out of them. This has happened plenty in Bernal, not only with the Cervantes home, and will continue to happen.

    Some commenters above have shared a sentiment that I echo: People for whom “change” has brought about economic bliss talk much about how great it is for Bernal, where the greatest value espoused is the value of one’s home. I wonder how many people whose homes and livelihoods are threatened share the wistful idea that “change is inevitable” and just embrace it. People tend not to want to embrace what is killing them, which may be a surprise to some people who. Of course, it is better to have safer streets than not–and to have many more comforts than not–but there is also always a cost that others cannot bear.

    We all know that some “great” things happen when an area is “developed,” but nonprofits and artists are usually on the receiving end of the wrecking ball. The writing has been on the wall for years for many places of unique importance in SF and the neighborhood–and we have said goodbye to too many already. For Precita Eyes, the writing will now be scrawled in paint and crayon. In the words of so many on this blog: Get Used to It. That is the humanity you are given.

    • Is the Cervantes’ old home the “home sweet home” on the corner of precita that’s been under construction forever? I’ve been so curious what is up with that place….

      • Hi, Lis. Yes, that’s the one, with the address number on the door now dangling from just one end.

        I would like for the community to get a “status update” on the construction (very rarely) going on there. Does anyone know how one would go about doing that? From what I have observed, most of the work (for a decade…) has involved removing the interior structure, tinkering in the backyard, and taking up many parking spaces when their toil is at its busiest.

        Perhaps someone knows how to contact the owners (at least at the time), Douglas Wong (SF’s former port director) and Pearl Yee, who so graciously gave Ms. Cervantes 3 days’ notice to vacate in 2005, and inquire about their plans. I usually would not “name names” in this way, but sometimes garbage has to be thrown into the street.

        Below is a little history on this tragedy. The pieces were published 10 years ago this week:

  12. I didn’t realize Precita Eyes was still using that location. Every time I walk by (only a few times a week) there doesn’t seem to be any activity, unlike the 24th Street location.

    Also, as a community organization, I’ve always wondered why Precita Eyes doesn’t “open source” or “creative commons” their murals. It’s kind of disturbing to see copyright notices on them. Something I’d expect from Disney, not a community organization.

    • Some murals in the Mission (such as Clarion Alley) show up as backdrops in ad campaigns.
      Does copyrighting prevent that?

      • No, it just means someone can’t make money off it directly. If a mural is in public space photos with it in it can be published under the fair use rules.

  13. There’s tone, and then there’s inserting one’s own conclusion/opinion as fact and then continuing onward in ever harsher tone. Of course some people object to that manner of writing. Oh, so you’re offended by the tone policing tone of another’s tone? heh. OK. How about let it all roll off your back instead?

    I’m all for whatever Precita Eyes can do to stay. I’ve taken my nephew there, and plan to take my daughter there. Too many neighborhood gems with positive outlets for young people around here are going away. Sensei Reed at Iomasda on 20th and Lexington lost his space. Looks like Mr. Navarro is losing his.

    I mean, it’s easy to see why “Sell to us at a discount or else we’ll shame you,” can be considered disingenuous. It’s also easy to see why, “Hey landlord, this is actually your fault. It is you who has the relationship with the (very) longterm tenant.” And it’s easy to see why, “Hey newbie, don’t mess with a neighborhood treasure” resonates. These are complex issues with valid viewpoints on all sides.

  14. The phrase in NYC is “BLA” i.e. “Bad Lesbian Art.” Not very PC but tends frightfully on target.

    There are good public muralists but I see none there. The city is getting too sophisticated for ubiquitous kitsch.

    • As a dyke in Bernal, I regret than anyone thinks the City’s “getting too sophisticated for” X. Sophistication is over-rated but I guess homophobic comments are tolerated on Bernalwood.

      What does Bernalwood think of my assessment that you’re a stuck up white dude?

  15. These are facts, not political viewpoints:

    1. Selling for the highest bid is legal. Bidding as high as you want is also legal. Do I think being greedy is evil? Absolutely. Is my definition of greed different than yours? Absolutely. Is greed legal? Yes.

    2. Even if the seller wanted to sell the building to a “community-approved” buyer, that goal would be impossible. As this thread demonstrates, there is nothing approaching a clear choice for who “deserves” to receive special treatment in the buying process.

    3. Just because you are loud and self-righteous doesn’t mean you speak the truth, or have the best ideas regarding how to fix what you view as broken.

    4. Blaming newcomers to the neighborhood for the icy heart of the real estate market isn’t a solution. It takes a buyer AND a seller to gentrify; and there is no legal compulsion for either party to care what you think.

    Also, for those of you who were raised by wolves… It is counterproductive and rude to attack someone for having a different opinion than yours. Doing so means that you are under the delusion that your own life is beyond criticism, your worldview is 100% correct, and your opponent will be won over by abrasive confrontation.

    Also, regarding the content/tone of this blog: There should be room for all sorts of journalism in the world. Criticize factual inaccuracies, not perceived ideology. If you are unhappy with what you think are the principles of this blog, you are free not to read it and/or start your own and/or comment politely. Don’t go to a Jazz club and get violent when they won’t play Miley Cyrus.

    • Yes, well said. I agree completely.

      People who don’t like change and don’t want the building to sell, should BUY IT THEMSELVES.

  16. wow. it’s the one right on the corner, the Precita Eyes storefront, and the flat above? That’s tons of sq ft plus a big lot … unfortunately 995K won’t come close to cutting it.

  17. I am a member of the family that owns this property. Our presence in SF dates back to before the 1906 earthquake (they camped out in the park during the repairs). It has been in our family for a hundred years. Look up August & Minnie Schmidt in the 1915 online directory. One of the owners is the 83 year old granddaughter of August and Minnie. Another is a great-grandson who worked all his life in SF until he had to retire under medical disability, and who has had multiple surgeries to help the back injuries he suffered while working as a printer. His entire life savings consists of $11,000. These are the owners to whom Precita Eyes is trying to dictate sale terms. This is the one and only commercial property the family owns, in SF or anywhere else. We are not “big investors” by any stretch of the imagination.

    What Precita Eyes is trying to do is to force the family to sell to them, on their terms and on their terms alone, and obviously below market value (or else they would just submit their bid along with any other potential buyers). Who thinks this is moral behavior on their part?

    • Mr. Silva:

      Thank you for taking the time to explain your side of the situation. You shouldn’t have to detail your family’s history and financial situation simply to sell your building for what you think is fair. I doubt any of the people planning to protest would want to have to defend their finances in public.

      This is a great example of why knee-jerk opinion forming is so ill-advised. And why most of the time we should keep our noses out of other peoples’ business.

      I hope your family’s financial dealings aren’t affected by misguided activists.

  18. This is the Michael Silva reported above as the owner (born in SF in 1954). I am actually just the Trustee of my mom’s estate (born in SF in 1932). She and her twin sister co-owned the property until she passed away a few years ago. Now my mom’s estate, along with her twin sister, are trying to sell the property. And Precita Eyes is trying to make sure we do not receive fair market value for a property that has been in our family for at least 100 years.

    • Thank you for shedding light and showing us the personal side of things. I hope you are not bullied into taking less than you can. You are obviously not selling out of greed but out of necessity, and it’s time for your family to let the property go; which I’m sure is hugely emotional in itself. Best of luck to you and your family.

    • The thieving zealots will completely ignore the needs of your family. Although they appear work for the community, they are, in fact, ruthless in their self-righteousness and are deeply Machiavellian. You may need to publicize your side of the story before they completely destroy the market value of your family’s property.

  19. Pingback: Bids Due, Tensions High as Trustee Says Precita Eyes Seeks to “Dictate Sales Terms” | Bernalwood

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