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He introduced me to Rocio Ponce, a young woman who’d lived in the building where Mauricio Orellana died. I had a guy who glued bologna sandwiches to his wall and sued me because his room had roaches.”At this, Gideon launches into a tirade against San Francisco attorneys who specialize in tenants’ rights.She’d been out getting something to eat when the fire started, and so she watched from the street as everything she owned burned. He paints me a picture of a city filled with attorneys who “prey off of buildings like this.He told me he didn’t know of any cases of arson explicitly tied to landlords wanting to get rich from gentrification but that the arson department was so overloaded and under-resourced that cases “do not get the level of professionalism and investigation that they deserve.” There were fires, he said, that “very well could have been arson, but we just didn’t have the manpower to devote to those cases.” I decided to continue my search.Gabriel from Meda and I had lunch at a local Mexican place, San Jalisco.This is in a café near the Mission District in San Francisco. The past few years have seen sustained tech-worker colonization. He’s nice-looking, in his early 50s, with shaggy hair and tinted glasses.The fire alarms might have been loud enough for him to hear over his music, but they weren’t working.
And is this the deadly endgame of gentrification and tech-boom greed? I ’m sitting by the fireplace, as I told him I would be. It’s also been gentrifying for ages—but never like this.
Medina works at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), an advocacy group for the Latino and low-income populations.
We passed a store that sold “artisan pizza” and “button-up shirts for the timeless tomboy” and “wood-free ukuleles” and—well, you know.“They recognize this is a Mexican neighborhood until someone dangles some money to do a luxury condo and suddenly it’s not so important it’s a Mexican neighborhood,” said Spike.
Property prices have skyrocketed, and something strange and terrible has started happening: a spate of mysterious fires.
There were 45 of them in 20, displacing 198 people and killing three, including a child.
He told me he was Spanish—from the Pyrenees—but he wouldn’t tell me his name.