Final Supervisor District Map Approved: What it Means …

by Paul Hogarth on April 16, 2012

At 6:00 p.m. on April 14th (six hours before the City Charter’s deadline), the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force approved a new map of the eleven districts – which will determine all Board of Supervisors elections for the next ten years. Of course, District 6 (which had to lose 20,000 people) will see the most change – but the Task Force really did their best to respect all current boundaries, only nibbling at the edges when necessary. District 1 will become slightly more moderate, and District 8 slightly more progressive – but the key word here is “slightly.” District 9 Supervisor David Campos now has to meet 15,000 new constituents – as he picked up the North Mission and got the rest of Portola, but also lost “Glen Bernal.” District 10 kept Potrero Hill and lost Portola, while District 5’s border with District 2 has an Animé-like boundary to keep Japantown. If there was any political “winner” in this process, it was probably Supervisor John Avalos – whose District 11 was largely unchanged, when it could have become more moderate. District 3 likewise will not hurt or help David Chiu’s re-election chances. Read more for details …

As I’ve written before, the Redistricting Task Force was refreshingly transparent – as they carefully listened to public comment, and did their best to keep the City’s neighborhoods intact. In fact, seven of the districts will have population deviations of more than 1% from the mean – in order to protect “communities of interest.” But when it came to political consequences, the Task Force was blind to such concerns.

“[We] did not emphasize political considerations, such as distribution of power among various political blocs or coalitions in the City,” said member Myong Leigh. “The relatively low level of political pressure or emphasis allowed the Task Force to be more responsive to community concerns that were more clearly related to its established charge. Future Task Forces would be well served by this dynamic.”

Many changes had political consequences, but that’s not what was on their mind – or of most neighborhood activists who sought to influence the process. Placing Portola into District 9 helped progressives, but the Task Force did it for a non-partisan reason: math. Meanwhile, keeping the North Panhandle out of District 1 may have hurt progressives – but its left-leaning residents demanded to stay in District 5, because they had more in common with Haight-Ashbury than the Richmond.

But now that the lines are drawn, we can talk about the political consequences – and how it affects the November 2012 elections, and other races for the next ten years.

District 6 Can’t Elect Another Chris Daly, But it Will Elect Jane Kim

Due to the massive condo development in SOMA over the past ten years, District 6 had to lose about 20,000 people. And with the new map, virtually all its loss was from historically “progressive” neighborhoods. Everything west of Van Ness went into District 5, the entire North Mission south of the Central Freeway is now part of District 9 (except for the sliver west of Valencia Street – which is now in District 8), and the rest of Union Square’s shopping district was placed into District 3.

What’s left in District 6? Treasure Island, Mission Bay, all of SOMA & the Tenderloin. It’s clear that a sectarian progressive like Chris Daly – who was District 6 Supervisor from 2000 to 2010 – could not win the district in its new form. But in 2010, Jane Kim proved that a progressive candidate can win the condo dwellers in SOMA – if you work to include them in your coalition, with the district’s low-income renters.

Because District 6 was losing the North Mission (which includes a fair number of residential hotels), I worked hard to keep as much of the Tenderloin intact – as the Task Force had proposed bringing its northern boundary from Post to Geary Streets. We gave specific block-by-block input about the SRO population – and when they accidentally placed the Bristol Hotel into District 3, we turned out SRO tenants to oppose it. Not only did we save the Bristol Hotel, but we also got Maria Manor in the end.

The new District 6 boundary north of Market looks funny, but it was carefully drawn – virtually every Tenderloin SRO that was in District 6 before has remained in D6.

District 9 Picks Up New Neighborhoods – Gets More Progressive

While District 6 had to lose the most number of people, District 9 had to gain the most. Supervisor David Campos, who will be up for re-election this year, now has picked up 15,000 new constituents – while losing about 4,000. But he shouldn’t have a problem in November, because District 9 will now be the most progressive district in the City – when in the past decade it was a close runner-up to District 5.

Beyond Campos’ neighborhood in Bernal Heights, District 9 now will have the whole Mission District up to the Central Freeway – while including all of Portola, extended all the way down to Mansell Street and MacLaren Park. Portola is more politically moderate, but picking up the rest of the Mission will more than compensate for that. And no question, these two changes will now make District 9 more working-class.

Meanwhile, District 9’s western border with District 8 has moved from Guerrero to Valencia – except for St. Luke’s Hospital, which serves the Mission. Further south, District 9’s western boundary moved from San Jose Avenue to Mission Street.

District 1 Gets More Moderate – But Only Slightly

Historically, District 1 – i.e., the Richmond – has been the city’s “swing” district, and progressive Supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Eric Mar both won close elections there. With Mar up for re-election this November, the question was what effect moving the lines would have on his chances. District 1 had to grow, and the fear among progressives was whether it would pick up the Seacliff neighborhood.

In the last week, the Task Force proposed adding parts of the progressive North Panhandle into District 1 – which would have helped Mar’s re-election. But with residents turning out to strongly oppose this change, they backed off – and instead added five blocks of Lake Street in the Inner Richmond (from 6th to 11th Avenue), and two blocks of Lake Street in the Outer Richmond (from 25th to 27th Avenue.)

Lake Street is a wealthy area, and a political anomaly from the rest of the Richmond. But it’s far less exclusive than Seacliff, and adding those blocks into District 1 has a very marginal impact – it’s less than 2,000 people. And while adding more of Lake Street brings some upscale homes into District 1, this change will also add more of California Street – which has many apartment buildings with middle-class renters.

So far, no one has declared to run against Eric Mar – but his rumored challengers include Planning Commissioner Rodney Fong and Rec & Parks Commissioner David Lee. If redistricting has emboldened these moderates, they may be in for a rude awakening. At the end of the day, District 1’s changes were marginal at best.

Ed. Note: Rodney Fong actually lives on the north side of Lake Street, which puts him in District 2 – not District 1. Therefore, he could only run against Eric Mar if he moved before the election.

District 8 More Progressive, But Will it Matter?

In 2000, progressive lesbian Eileen Hansen came very close to scoring an upset in the District 8 Supervisor race — which includes the Castro, Noe Valley and Glen Park. In 2002, she ran again – this time, it was an open seat (with Mark Leno off to Sacramento) and redistricting earlier that year added parts of the Lower Haight and the lefty Valencia Corridor. But she still managed to lose the race to moderate Bevan Dufty. In 2010, moderate Scott Wiener won the seat.

Under the new map, District 8 is even more progressive. Its eastern boundary now includes the whole Valencia Corridor – picking up about 4,000 people from District 6 (some of the most progressive precincts in the City), and 2,000 from District 9. On the other hand, its northern boundary with District 5 has moved down from Waller to Hermann in a few places – but that’s only 1,200 people. And it keeps 55 Laguna.

Moreover, District 8 has absorbed the “Glen Bernal” triangle from San Jose Avenue to Mission Street – which had been in District 9 – picking up another 2,000 people. It’s a working-class area between Glen Park and Bernal Heights. As a friend of mine who lives there put it, “our little neighborhood will give D8 some needed diversity.”

On the other side of the I-280, District 8 added a tiny sliver of Mission Terrace along Cayuga Avenue from District 11. It’s unclear how that would affect future District 8 elections, but it’s only 838 people – so the overall impact of that change is negligible. No doubt, District 8 will be more progressive – but it’s unclear if that will matter.

In District 5, Neighborhood Lines – Not Politics – is Chief Result

District 5 had quite a few redistricting changes, but none of them will diminish its overall progressiveness. In fact, the primary discussion in District 5 was not about politics – but about keeping its neighborhoods intact. As an appointed incumbent, Supervisor Christina Olague has never been on the ballot – so it’s unclear how well she will do. But as a progressive in District 5, she will remain the heavy favorite.

The biggest change to District 5 is that it absorbed the rest of Hayes Valley and the Western Addition – extending its eastern boundary to Van Ness. But while it picked up a few blocks in the Lower Haight, the proposed development at 55 Laguna Street will remain in District 8. Supervisor Olague was late to supporting 55 Laguna in her district, while one of her opponents led the charge. Will that be a campaign issue in November?

On the other hand, Olague actively helped her constituents when the Task Force was going to move parts of North Panhandle into District 1. She spoke at two meetings, urging them to keep NOPA in District 5 – which will help her election in November.

Meanwhile, the Cathedral Hill neighborhood – which is pre-occupied with the CPMC Hospital project – fought to put as much of them in District 5, as opposed to District 2. When Supervisor Mark Farrell spoke about how he wanted CPMC in his district, the Task Force members noted that it wasn’t what the neighborhood wanted. In the end, they put the block that will house the future CPMC (Van Ness to Franklin, Geary to Post) into District 5 – even though its immediate neighboring blocks are in D2.

Finally, the Task Force struggled to keep Japantown into District 5 – because that’s what the neighborhood wanted, although District 2 had a population deficit. The result is what one Task Force member called an “Animé-like” boundary – District 2 picked up several blocks of Lower Pacific Heights, bringing the border down from California to Pine in some places (and Sutter or Post in others.) But the boundary was very much targeted to keep various important Japantown institutions in D5.

District 10 More Progressive: Loses Portola, Picks Up Slice of Mission

One major drama at the Redistricting Task Force that had major political overtones was about the Portola – and whether to put it in District 9 or 10. Supervisor Malia Cohen came to a meeting, and spoke in favor of putting it in District 10 – which led some to wonder if she wanted Potrero Hill removed from her district. Following that meeting, she failed to get endorsed by the Potrero Hill Democratic Club in her run for S.F. Democratic County Central Committee.

Potrero Hill has always been in District 10, and it’s always had a disproportionate influence – because its white progressives vote in higher numbers than working-class residents in Bayview Hunters Point or Portola. That’s why, since district elections (in the 1970’s and today), three of the four District 10 Supervisors have been from Potrero Hill – with Malia Cohen being the fourth. By losing over 6,000 people in Portola to District 9, Potrero Hill will have even greater influence in D10.

In addition, the Task Force added a small slice of the Mission – about 1,500 people – from District 6 into District 10. This is the part east of Bryant Street and north of 20th Street, which includes Franklin Square and the Safeway on 16th Street. Residents there live next to Potrero Hill, and will vote very much the same way.

District 11 Largely Unchanged, Avalos Big Winner

In last November’s mayoral election, Ed Lee beat John Avalos in District 11 – his home turf – and many speculated how it will affect his re-election chances. At the time, I wrote that it depended how redistricting changes the composition of D11. Others reported that despite losing District 11 in the mayor’s race, Avalos was able to retain his base of support in the Excelsior – so he was stronger than anticipated.

If District 11 had expanded eastward to include Portola or Visitacion Valley – with its heavy Asian population – John Avalos could be in trouble. But the Task Force put Portola in D9, and kept Visitacion Valley in D10 (except for about 1,000 people.)

After all, District 11 had to lose people – so the result is pretty much status quo. About 2,600 people in Ingleside (who live north of Holloway) were taken out of District 11 and into District 7. And while Avalos spoke at a Task Force meeting to oppose removing about 800 people in Cayuga Terrace to District 8, the precinct in question preferred his opponent (Ahsha Safai) in the Supervisor race back in 2008.

All things considered, Avalos lost some relatively moderate parts of his district – while keeping his core Excelsior precincts intact. While Chinese labor organizer Leon Chow may challenge him, District 11 remains a progressive district.

District 3 Also Largely Unchanged

Not much to report on what happened to District 3 – because it just picked up a few blocks in Union Square and Lower Nob Hill (a total of 2,390 people) from District 6. Although Rose Pak and Aaron Peskin have made noise about challenging Supervisor David Chiu this year, redistricting will not affect the outcome of this race.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Hogarth obsessively live-blogged the Redistricting Task Force meetings on his personal Facebook page.

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