In less than a week, San Francisco’s Redistricting Task Force will have finished its job – and the City’s 11 supervisorial district boundaries will be set for the next ten years. And while they are still taking input and will alter the map until the very last meeting on April 14th, a majority of Task Force members have said at meetings that “major” decisions have been made – so we are probably now left tinkering at the edges. Populations between districts will be equalized, attempts at uniting neighborhoods will continue and decisions over exact blocks will be made. Ten years ago, we had a far more partisan process – with “progressive” and “moderate” Task Force members pushing particular agendas. This year, I have been impressed at the transparency – public comment has had a huge impact, and members have worked hard to balance such input with mathematical realities. San Franciscans should review the current draft map
– and suggest specific changes at the block level before Saturday. The following is a preview of what is being discussed …
Given the magnitude of what the Redistricting Task Force is doing, it’s shocking that there has been so little media coverage. Last week's meetings at City Hall were not televised, as SFGTV ran (on both channels) reruns of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor Committee meetings. But the Task Force has held public hearings in all of the City’s 11 districts
– and hundreds of people throughout the neighborhoods have had input. At this point, however, while the Task Force tinkers at the edges and finalizes changes, it should be televised.
It has also been remarkably non-partisan. The most controversial move – about whether to put Portola
in District 9 or 10 – has been partisan, with moderates advocating for D10 and progressives pushing for D9. But at this point, a majority of Task Force members appear to want it in District 9 for a non-partisan reason: math. D10 and D11 must lose people, and D9 has to grow. Because everyone agrees we must make Portola “whole,” moving a neighborhood with 16,000 people into District 10 would require moving Potrero Hill out of D10 – causing a ripple effect at this late hour.
Last week, the Task Force made no major changes to the Draft Map – but instead had extensive debate about various district boundaries, balancing neighborhood unity with an attempt to “equalize” the numbers. Legally, all 11 districts must be within 5% of the population median (73,203 people.) And while the Draft Map has all eleven districts within that deviation, there’s a consensus among Task Force members to avoid too much “imbalance” – so tweaks have been, and will be, made.
The following are the boundaries that got the most attention last week, and are the most likely to be amended this week. San Franciscans who live in these parts of the City are urged to attend the final meetings, and give specific block-by-block input …
55 Laguna Street and the D5/D8 Boundary
Besides Portola, the one issue that has received the most heated public comment is 55 Laguna Street – and the Lower Haight boundary between Districts 5 and 8. But while many San Franciscans are passionate one way or another, the Task Force has been very measured and guarded – and perhaps, changes will be made this week.
No one currently lives in the block at 55 Laguna Street, but it’s the site of a major development project. Supervisor Scott Wiener and various LGBT groups want it in District 8, because the project is slated to have a number of units for LGBT seniors. But Supervisor Christina Olague and Hayes Valley residents want it in District 5.
Right now, the proposed D5-D8 boundary is Waller Street – except for 55 Laguna, which would be in D8. Two Haight Street blocks currently in D8 would go into D5.
Anza Vista, North Panhandle, and the Booker T. Washington Center
Before last week, the Task Force had proposed putting Anza Vista (the area north of Turk, south of Geary, east of Masonic and west of Broderick) out of District 2 – and into District 1. But when Supervisor Mark Farrell and residents spoke in favor of keeping it in D2, they put it back – and then balanced out D1’s population deficit by giving it a few progressive blocks in the North Panhandle, which are currently in D5.
With Anza Vista back in D2, the Draft Map now has a very oddly shaped boundary between D2 and D5 – with a finger of D5 sticking out west, just north of Anza Vista. But that move was intentional. The Booker T. Washington Community Center at 800 Presidio Avenue is there, and neighborhood residents have urged that it (along with various Japantown institutions) be put in District 5. That boundary is in flux.
Glen Bernal – and the overall picture with District 9
With Portola currently in District 9, the Task Force has focused on wanting to make the neighborhood “whole” by putting as much of it into D9. At the same time, they have tried to “re-unite” the Mission District – by moving up D9’s northern boundary with District 6, with the current Draft Map putting the boundary at 14th Street. As a result, D9 is dangerously close to being 5% above the median – currently at +4.7%.
So the Task Force has considered removing parts of District 9, and one logical place would be “Glen Bernal” – the neighborhood between Mission Street and San Jose Avenue, just north of the I-280 – by putting it in District 8. The Task Force did not do this last week, but competing priorities might make such a move inevitable.
I rode my bike down there this weekend, just to get a feel of the area. On Bosworth Street, I asked a resident what neighborhood he lived in – and he said, “Glen Park.” If we moved that area south of St. Mary’s Avenue into D8, it would shift 940 people. Moving everything south of Richland would move 1,560 people – but I don’t think anything north of Richland would be appropriate. People up there told me Bernal Heights ends at Mission Street, but that they have less in common with Glen Park.
Post Street and the D3/D6 Boundary
Back in January, the Task Force’s first Draft Map had proposed
moving District 6’s northern boundary at Post Street down to Geary – because D6 has to lose so many people, and the blocks between Post and Geary are very high density. Tenderloin residents opposed this move, arguing Post Street has always been the border. At the same time, the Union Square Business Improvement District advocated shifting their blocks – along Powell Street – into District 3.
I have to commend the Task Force for how they resolved the Post Street issue last week. While the map is squiggly, they kept the “most Tenderloin” blocks in D6 – and it was done with precision. Right now, three blocks of Post Street – from Polk to Leavenworth – would stay in D6, with the rest going into D3. If they can keep any more of Post Street into D6, it should be the homeless shelter block between Polk and Van Ness. But for now, it’s crucial that we not remove anything else from D6.
In Eastern SOMA, the current Draft Map oddly pushes the D3/D6 boundary east of 3rd Street one block south – from Market Street to Mission. This is only 803 people, with all but 15 of them living between 3rd Street and New Montgomery. They should move the line back to Market Street, in order to create a more consistent boundary.
Russian Hill and the D2/D3 Boundary
Russian Hill neighbors have spoken at Task Force meetings, and the members have shifted the D2/D3 boundary back and forth between Union and Green Streets, with the border jutting east of Van Ness to Jones Street. The current Draft Map puts the boundary at Union Street – as a means of trying to place most of Russian Hill in D2.
Union Street is a logical boundary when you’re at Polk Street, because that’s exactly where the Polk Street business corridor ends (keeping all those businesses in D3.) But when you go uphill towards Hyde Street, it is clear that Russian Hill stretches further south. I would advocate moving the boundary to Green Street between Larkin to Leavenworth Streets – which would put more of Russian Hill into D2.
Inner Sunset – Task Force Undid One of their Good Changes
Back in January, my friend Greg Dewar – who lives in the Inner Sunset, and runs a blog called the N Judah Chronicles
– complained that his neighborhood was perennially ignored, split between D5 and D7. “Whenever local leaders wanted to organize an event with Supervisors,” he wrote at the time
, “they had to find a time when both Supervisors Elsbernd and Mirkarimi could attend, since both represented the area. I remember moving literally across the street and down a block and finding myself in another district.”
Earlier Draft Maps by the Task Force resolved this problem – by pushing District 5’s southern boundary from Judah to Kirkham Streets, putting more of the Inner Sunset into D5. But at Thursday night’s meeting, in an attempt to balance out a population deficit in D7, the Task Force went back to the current boundaries – splitting up the Inner Sunset once again. While sticking to the status quo is generally a good thing, in this case the Task Force effectively undid what was a needed change.
District 11 and its Population Excess
Just like District 9, the Task Force’s Draft Map puts District 11 dangerously close to the 5% mark above the median – it is currently at 4.66%. Early on in this process, the working-class Ingleside neighborhood was organized in demanding that they stay in D11 – arguing they have more in common with the Excelsior, than District 7. As a result, the current Draft Map keeps everything south of Holloway in D11.
What this means is that D11 will likely lose some of its eastern blocks to District 10, in the area just south of the Crocker-Amazon playground …
The Redistricting Task Force meets tonight at 6:00 p.m. in Room 416 at City Hall, and again on April 11th at 6:00 p.m. in Room 416. The final meeting is on Saturday, April 14th at 10:00 a.m. in Room 400 – with a midnight of deadline of completing the map. For more details, check for updates here.