By Thomas K. Pendergast
The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office will receive a final map changing the City’s supervisorial districts and, with their approval, it will perhaps end the contentious public meetings.
District-based elections for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors require adjusting supervisorial boundaries each decade for shifts in population density, to give each of the 11 districts roughly the same number of people, within about plus or minus 5% of the average.
Although some might be relieved that no one will have to go through this again for another 10 years, the fact that the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force missed its April 15 deadline, and is now being sued because of that, means a judge could ultimately decide the boundaries, so it might not be a done deal, yet.
For the time being, however, changes for the west side include: The Richmond’s District 1 will be gaining all points north of Lake Street up to the Presidio, which includes Lands End, Sea Cliff east through to Presidio Heights, stopping at Arguello Boulevard. It will be losing, however, the blocks between Geary Boulevard and Anza Street that are east of Arguello, to District 2.
Over at the eastern end of Golden Gate Park, D7 will get all of Irving Street east of 19th Avenue to Arguello but D5 will keep Kezar Stadium and the park area facing Stanyan Street.
In the Sunset, D4 will take the Merced Manor area from D7, south across Sloat Boulevard to Lake Merced Boulevard and Eucalyptus Drive, while leaving the San Francisco Zoo, most of the Stonestown Galleria and Lake Merced in D7.
“I look forward to Lakeshore and Merced Manor becoming part of District 4 and to representing these neighborhoods on the Board of Supervisors,” said D4 Supervisor Gordon Mar. “I’m already familiar with these communities as I live nearby, regularly shop at Lakeshore Plaza and my daughter also attends Lowell High School. I believe the diverse working families and seniors in these neighborhoods share a lot in common with District 4’s other neighborhoods in the Outer Sunset and Parkside districts.
“While updating our supervisorial district boundaries was certainly a challenging task with many competing considerations, the process was incredibly controversial and divisive,” Mar said. “Unfortunately, this undermines the credibility of the all-volunteer Task Force and may even lead to legal challenges.”
And indeed, in the six months that the task force has been at it, there have been at least seven different drafts of the map. The hostility became so severe that an April meeting went on into the early morning hours and ended when four of the nine members on it walked out and left the others to approve the map.
Among the many points of contention, most were on the east side of the City – districts 10, 9, 6 and 5.
Oracle Park and the new site for the Chase Center were left in D6, despite the protests of many D10 residents who particularly wanted the Chase Center in their district. A move to take Potrero Hill from D10 and put it into D9, however, was eventually abandoned after much outcry from activists and community advocates.
One of the most contentious moves is expanding D5 eastward across Van Ness, taking a large chunk of the Tenderloin out of D6, which splits those residents away from SOMA and puts them in the same district as Haight/Ashbury.
D5 Supervisor Dean Preston didn’t mince words about what he thought about the process.
“Given the Task Force’s flip-flopping throughout this process, I hesitate to say much before a final map has actually been adopted,” Preston said. “What’s quite clear is that the majority of this Task Force is hell-bent on gerrymandering and erasing our City’s most vulnerable communities. They should be ashamed.”
D7 resident Lori Liederman made her feelings clear as well.
“The majority of this task force has never wavered from your preconceived priorities, with the sole exception of keeping Potrero in D10, (the) right thing to do,” Liederman said. “You have uplifted the power of the affluent and powerful while you have dismissed and discarded marginalized communities. You have favored newcomers at the expense of long-term residents. You have betrayed renters, seniors, BIPOC, working-class residents. You have abandoned the TL (Tenderloin).
“Your intent is unmistakable; to make those communities irrelevant and to ensure they are targeted for demolition and replacement. No wonder you never presented any consistent criteria for your decisions. That would have held you accountable!”
Another D7 resident, Dennis Antenore, questioned why the Task Force put District 8 so close to the Haight and Inner Sunset near Kezar Stadium, encroaching on D5 and D7.
“District 8 has been shoved in there separating the two districts,” Antenore said. “We have no connection to District 8 in the Inner Sunset, nor does the Haight/Ashbury. There are mountains and difficult terrain to get through to even reach District 8. It doesn’t make any sense.
“It also separates the Haight-Ashbury from having any influence over UCSF. And even though the Haight-Ashbury is one of the two areas of the City that feels the most impact from UCSF, they have been disconnected from it,” he said. “It’s not right and it shouldn’t have happened. It looks like somebody did it on purpose.”
Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) president and D5 resident Tes Welborn said she had many arguments with the process they went through.
“Your failure to explain the move of the Tenderloin into District 5 in the face of hundreds opposing it; no consistent, transparent decision-making process and clear reasons were given for most moves,” Welborn said. “Compared to prior redistricting processes, you’ve moved 30,000 to 40,000 people at a whack. Many times you have prioritized keeping institutions whole while moving people like pieces on a chessboard. It is really hard to understand how you have arrived at (this) other than a hidden agenda because the public comments have not justified what you have done. And there will be consequences.”