2016 in review: Focus on our most active Mission Merchant Board Member: Roberto Hernandez

Roberto Hernandez and the Mission have a long history together. He is the face of Carnaval SF and its associated multicultural arts and dance as well as the Mission's Latino immigrant community which has been the dominant culture in the Mission since the 1960s. He began his career as a community activist as a organizer for Cesar Chavez. He went on to be the Executive Director of the Real Alternatives Program (RAP).

He founded MECA [Mission Economic and Cultural Association] the organization that took the parade and festival Carnaval San Francisco from struggling great idea to the largest ethnic event on the West Coast. As the impresario of the largest free moving annual music and dance show in California he must find revenue in a City that often tries to shed its obligation to support the arts. So sales and spreading the contagion of enthusiasm is another of his valuable and rare skills that Mission Merchants Association appreciates as it carries out its mission to preserve, promote and protect the Mission.

This executive producer of Carnaval SF Parade and Festival is also a long time Vice President of the Mission Merchants Association and knows personally many of the business owners of the Mission who have been event advertising clients who made it possible to produce the Carnaval SF and many other events.

Roberto lives close to where he grew up at Florida and 24th with his wife Mariana and son Roberto "Tito" Jr. He figuratively and literally wears many hats, musician, artist, poet, father of seven, grandfather of 15 and recently became great grand father. He has been the founder of many currently active groups including the currently active San Francisco Lowriders Council, Calle24, and Our Mission NO Eviction.


Lately he has taken on a combination Merchant/Lowrider issue. In the summer of 2016 the SFMTA erected a One-Way sign at the historic entry to the Mission Miracle Mile at Mission and Cesar Chavez as part of the red carpet transit first experiment initiative. The dramatic drop in pedestrian walk-by traffic has since translated to many store closings and layoffs that his team of volunteers documented and presented to the Mayor, D9 Supervisor David Campos and most importantly the SFMTA. $2 million was the cost of the experiment which only resulted in Muni buses traveling 2 minutes faster but a economic disaster to merchants. SFMTA offered some mitigation to merchants which to date has only consisted or eliminating two of the right turn only corners and a small one-time visitor campaign for Latin media.

New District 9 SF Supervisor

On September 29th at the Brava Theater Roberto produced the Mission Merchants D9 Supervisor debate in a coalition with many other neighborhood groups. The Brava debate seemed to crystallize the feeling that the last 8 years, the D9 Supervisor David Campos was not the most responsive or successful supervisor for many needs. His chief of staff and candidate Hillary Ronan said she is "not the Campos legacy." Both she and her main opponent, Joshua Arce have pledged to building more residential units in the Mission. Roberto’s passionate view is clear: “Due to the housing crisis who ever gets elected will need to immediately get up and running to address, gentrification, homelessness and stopping the evictions of residents and small businesses.


Roberto recently secured a $75,000 grant from the City SF with the support of Supervisor Campos to develop a five year strategic plan for Carnaval SF 2017, which will include the design for his vision for the upcoming 40th anniversary in 2018. Currently he is training a group of young people in their 20's who will be responsible to take over the production and management of Carnaval SF over the next 3 years as he plans on passing on the torch! Merchants and even tech firms are encourage to participate as vendors, create special promotions, donate prizes for the raffle and or sponsor the Carnaval SF. After all this is the day the Inner Mission neighborhood invites everyone to come together and be part of the greatest multicultural show ever celebrated.

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