Carole Conn, Director, Public Service Programs, LRIS
These days in San Francisco, the topic of ever increasing rent garners headlines. Those headlines often relate to the housing market and soaring commercial rent is also changing the city’s neighborhoods for good.
Case in point is Carlos Navarro’s Academy of Martial Arts & Bodybuilding Gym, a labor of love for decades and a pillar for youth in the Mission.
In May, a new building owner tripled Navarro’s rent, from $1,800 to $4,500, then to $6,500, even though Navarro had agreed to pay $4,500.
As his own business teaches, Navarro, and his daughter Rubie, are not going down without a fight. To assist, they hired LRIS Landlord-Tenant Panel attorney Sal Timpano.
“My client’s gym has been in its current location for over 40 years. This fight is about the gym as much as it is about the community in which it serves,” says Timpano. Indeed, the matter isn’t over yet with San Francisco Supervisor David Campos making the gym a poster child for his pending “legacy business” legislation.
The gym, which supports youth in the way communities need, where kids do something healthful, confidence building and enriching at the same time they are safe from the mischief of the streets, has been at the forefront of sustaining an art constructive for young people. The ballot initiative to create a “Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund,” will appear on the November ballot as Proposition J. Its aim is to help businesses stay in San Francisco by providing commercial tenants and landlords grant funds. The businesses must have more than 30 years of existence and have impacted their neighborhood’s history and culture.
According to Rubie Navarro, “We are not only fighting to keep our business in the community. We hope to help other business owners who are leaders in their community, be protected. This needs to be a more fair process, and one beyond just how much money can be made on a single piece of property.”
For the Navarros and for the Mission district community, their studio is a legacy and home to many. It now remains to be seen if their legacy can continue making history.
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