SAN ANTONIO — At the corner of Iowa and Monumental, just blocks from the Alamodome, some east side neighbors watched a man spray-paint a retaining wall with a profanity-laced message centered on gentrification Wednesday night.
It was a message that newcomers are not welcome.
Giselle Mancha saw the man tagging the wall at Friendship Baptist Church with words "F*** GENTRIFICATION," and she called police. As a newcomer who moved into a rental property recently, she said seeing the hatred was not nice.
“I just think it's so unfair, just moving in here and just seeing people just going to ruin stuff like that,” Mancha said.
She was relieved to see a painter cover the message Friday morning, but she wonders why improvements are not welcome.
"Why do you not want to see this neighborhood becoming better?" Mancha asked.
Juan Rodriguez, who works at a nearby church, said they are constantly battling to keep the building safe from vandals while the neighborhood is in a state of transition.
“The neighborhood is getting better. It is. But at what cost?” he said.
Rodriguez said he recently moved into a rental home in the area. and he has relatives who have purchased homes here.
But skyrocketing values, he says, are just are not fair.
“You wouldn't like to have been kicked out of a place you've been comfortable for 20, 30 years. You did the bad; the shootings, the gangs and all that. You held your ground and now what?” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he feels the pain for people who may be priced out of the area.
“Now you're getting kicked out not because of the gangs not because of the neighborhood but because of the property taxes?” Rodriguez said.
Brian Gordon, a neighborhood activist, said safe, affordable housing is a topic of vital concern.
“Whenever we've done our get out the vote campaigns and we're out here door knocking and talking to people, this is the No. 1 issue that is going on," Gordon said. "And there's extreme urgency for it."
Gordon said he has watched the city propose solutions, but he believes his neighbors need less talk and more real change.
“We don't need more studies. We need action," he said. "We need to understand what good development looks like."