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Dropbox Soccer Incident Inspires Teen Activist 

Wednesday, Jun 3 2015
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On the second-to-last day of the school year, Hugo Vargas, a 17-year-old sophomore at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, was walking the corridors of City Hall with his best friend Donovan Zedd, struggling to call David Campos by his first name, as the Supervisor had requested. "David ..." Vargas began, before breaking into giggles. "I just can't say it."

The two teens were there to help Vargas' friend and mentor Gabriel Medina, of the Mission Economic Development Agency, lobby Supervisor Eric Mar to support the Mission housing moratorium. But when Vargas ran into Campos in the hallway, he took the chance to ask the supervisor for a meeting. Vargas wanted Campos' support for his application to serve on San Francisco's Youth Commission, a group of 17 citizens, ages 12 to 23, who advise the Board of Supervisors on issues that affect young people.

A year ago, the idea of requesting meetings with elected officials wouldn't have crossed Vargas' mind, but last fall he got a taste of civic engagement when he and his friends stood up to a group of tech workers who tried to bounce the kids from the soccer field at Mission Playground. The notorious Dropbox bro soccer incident was caught on video and went viral. Vargas and his friends, with help from the SF Latino Democratic Club, headlined a rally at City Hall and testified at a meeting of the Parks Commission. Thanks to overwhelming community support for the youth, the Recreation and Park Department decided to stop renting out the soccer field to adults in the evening.

"Kids should have a voice to say what we want," Vargas says. "We had our say with Mission Playground, and look what happened. It's been great. Everyone's getting along now."

Vargas supports the Youth Commission's proposal for youth voting in San Francisco ("Heck yeah!"), but his primary concern is affordable housing, and he supports the Mission moratorium. It's a very personal issue for him. Two years ago, he and his family had to move out of their apartment in the Mission when the rent shot from $1,500 to $1,900. Now he, his parents, and his sister live in a Single Room Occupancy hotel at 15th Street and Mission, and he's constantly on the lookout for better housing that they can afford.

Vargas' summer vacation plans mostly involve soccer, but he hopes the Youth Commission will set him on a path for a career in politics, possibly as a supervisor or district attorney: "It's a great opportunity to show what I got."

About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.


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