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Reshaping San Francisco’s Districts for the Next Decade

By Jack Quach

San Francisco will redraw its supervisorial district lines this spring, adjusting the face of its district map based on population data gathered and released from the federal census conducted in 2020. 

The decision made by the city’s Redistricting Task Force will set San Francisco’s districts for the next decade, impacting representation for various communities and residents. 

District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar uses a crosswalk at the end of Taraval Street, along the western edge of the Sunset District. The boundaries of District 4 will be redrawn based on shifts in population as determined by the redistricting process. Photo by Kate Quach.

San Francisco’s mayor, Board of Supervisors, and Elections Commission selected the nine-member team that carries representation from multiple districts. The Task Force will unveil its finalized map by April 15. This announcement plays a role in the upcoming November San Francisco Board of Supervisors election, in which supervisors of even-numbered districts will be on the ballot.  

After a change to city elections in 2000, San Francisco chooses supervisors on a district-by-district basis (rather than city-wide). Due to this electoral process, the city adapts district borders after each national census.

Crafting the decennial redistricting plan is far from simple: the task force contemplates a wide variety of factors to decide how large — and where — each section of San Francisco should become. Along with population trends, these guidelines include compliance with the Voting Rights Act and preserving well-established districts and communities of interest. 

Since 2010, certain districts (notably District 6) have grown more than others in their number of residents. So, the 2022 redistricting calls for the broadening and shrinking of borders to ensure that the neighborhoods retain relatively equal populations. 

According to the Statewide Database for California, District 6 has about a 30% surplus from the average number of SF residents if spread equally across the 11 districts. Meanwhile, Districts 1 and 4 have around an 8% decrease in comparison to the average. 

The Voting Rights Act requirement is an important one to ensure that all minority groups hold the right to equitable representation, and the task force will also look to maintain communities of interest. With this term in mind, the plan will seek to maintain historic and long-established relationships within districts, such as significant cultural communities and social organizations. In addition, the 2022 process places an emphasis on the inclusion of San Francisco residents’ voices. On the task force website, community members can share their input about their hopes for the April decision. 

“Creating the new supervisorial districts is a very challenging undertaking,” District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar said. “It’s like a puzzle.” 

The leaders on the Board of Supervisors receive continual updates from the Redistricting Task Force, which began regular meetings in September 2021. Supervisors work to inform the members of the task force about the characteristics of the neighborhoods they represent and the input they receive from residents. 

Mar underscored the goals of the redistricting to increase accessibility to civic voice, especially for minorities. 

“It is critical that the diverse communities in the Sunset and in all neighborhoods are included and their voices are heard,” he said. 

The Outer Sunset supervisor added that outreach to neighborhood associations remains essential to hear the perspectives of small and locally owned businesses, especially with the pandemic still present during the 2022 procedures. 

Cultural groups are another crucial aspect of supervisorial representation. Access to translations and voting resources represent key actions to ensure this diversity in creating active city participation, Mar said, pointing to District 4’s Asian population as an example of an established group in the Sunset. 

As for what the future of his district looks like, Mar said that he doesn’t anticipate much to change. He noted the similarities between his District 4 and District 1, which have “identifiable neighborhoods” with the map currently in place. 

“I know there will be strong support for preserving the Richmond District in District 1 and also the Sunset District in District 4,” he said, “the changes to our district lines will be fairly modest.” 

He has, however, heard requests from leaders and residents who wish to expand District 4 to incorporate more of the Sunset District. Currently, the district extends to around 19th Avenue, encapsulating the Outer and Central Sunset. According to Mar, district residents want to include more of the Inner Sunset because of the strong connections amongst the sections of the Sunset. For instance, small businesses could operate both in the Inner and Outer Sunset, meaning the combination would provide smoother interactions between these local owners and city representation. 

Ultimately, the April 15 decision falls in the hands of the 2021-22 Redistricting Task Force. San Francisco residents wishing to express their voice still can influence the formation of the city’s new districts, virtually sharing their ideal district maps and listening in on task force meetings for specific areas. 

The SF Redistricting Task Force website displays a full list of resources: sf.gov/public-body/2020-census-redistricting-task-force. 

2 replies »

  1. Supervisor Mar is WRONG when it comes to D1. The gerrymandering of D1 which has the snake like North of Lake Street and Sea Cliff grafted into D2 is absurd. All this territory belongs in D1. Why this was allowed is something only the last Redistricting team knows for sure. It is fair to say the Optics are terrible and need to be corrected.

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