SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco Chinatown has long been the hub for Chinese immigrants as both a place to live and work.
But now, some say signs of gentrification and the tech boom are threatening to drive longtime residents out of their homes.
The historical neighborhood is place where culture and history are on full display. There is what's called the Chinatown Area Plan in place to protect that identity.
But the area is facing new challenges, including rising rents, empty storefronts and evictions of low income tenants. "What we're seeing is some early red flags," said Cindy Wu, deputy director with the Chinatown Community Development Center.
Red flags - which some community leaders say include longtime businesses like the Empress of China Restaurant shutting down, and single room occupancy hotels being used for more lucrative short term rentals.
"They're charging up to $150 a night where we used to see SRO's going for $600 a month. If you can get $150 a night, what are you up against?" said Wu.
Speaking in Cantonese, an older Chinese woman shared with KTVU a notice she says she received Thursday. The notice informed her that the building, where she and other low income tenants live, is now being sold.
Tenants say many people have lived in the building anywhere from 8 years to 30 years.
On Thursday night, they headed to a community meeting worried about being evicted in favor of higher paying tenants.
They pay about $500 a month for a single room.
"Chinatown is dying, that is what I feel," said tenant Joe Leung.
To keep Chinatown from dying, some say 25-year-old Jenny Chan, co-founder of 1920C, is the new blood needed. The company offers work space, Wi-Fi and other services for a membership fee.
Chan says the space was once a restaurant where she ate dim sum growing up in the city. "I live really close by. That's why I really wanted a community oriented space," said Chan.
But critics say the building is not zoned for the type of business Chan is running and that it violates the Chinatown Area Plan.
"I feel hurt as a community member," said Chan.
"We really want to protect Chinatown as an immigrant gateway for immigrants but also for low income people who need a place that's affordable in the city," said Wu.
The space Chan is in was vacant for 8 years before she opened her business.
She expects a decision from the zoning department sometime in the coming weeks.