San Franciscans have a once in a decade opportunity to influence the political boundaries of their supervisorial regions; what neighborhoods will be clumped together for representation on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“A board of supervisor will advocate on behalf of their District for resources to be put into their ‘thing,’ whether it be a community resource center, improving the local library, or making sure that the bus lines in their neighborhood are serving the correct places,” said Alison Goh, president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of San Francisco. “That’s why it really matters and why people should get involved with this.”
Redistricting occurs every 10 years after federal census data reveals new population levels and geographic distributions. According to federal, state, and local laws – including the Federal Voting Rights Act – elective boundaries must have an equal number of inhabitants, with no more than a five percent variation “to prevent dividing or diluting the voting power of minorities and/or to keep recognized neighborhoods intact.”
A Redistricting Task Force – consisting of nine members – is working with municipal staff and outside consultants to determine how district lines should be redrawn. The Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and Elections Commission each appointed three task force members. This year’s participants are Matthew Castillon, Lily Ho, Rev. Arnold Townsend, José María (Chema) Hernandez Gil, Jeremy Lee, J. Michelle Pierce, Raynell Cooper, Chasel Lee, and Ditka Reiner.
Pierce lives in District 10. Hernandez Gil and Lee reside in District 6, which includes South-of-Market.
“I trust that the members of the Redistricting Task Force will conduct robust outreach in all our communities to engage our residents on how they want to redraw district lines,” District 10 Supervisor and Board President Shamann Walton said. “The Board is working closely with the Department of Elections and the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs to ensure that there are upcoming community meetings in every district, every neighborhood, and held in multiple languages to ensure that all our residents have access to these meetings.”
The Task Force will meet several times over the next six months to discuss how lines should be redrawn, with community input solicited along the way. Civic Edge Consulting is being paid $120,000 to support public outreach. A final proposal for new supervisorial district lines must be presented to the Board of Supervisors by April 15, 2022.
“We’re not talking about years or months and months of meetings,” Goh said. “We’re talking about a couple of very short months.”
District 10 presently zigzags at the City’s southeastern edge, encompassing Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Bayview-Hunters Point, and Visitacion Valley.
“There’s been so much growth as evidenced in the census data, but also evidenced in anybody just walking around anywhere in District 10,” Goh said. “It’s the opportunity to really make an impact there because of the exponential growth and the potential for where the lines can be drawn. I don’t want to prescribe what it’s going to look like, and I think that this is the opportunity for folks who live there to really voice their opinions on what defines District 10. Is it truly Bayview-Hunters Point and then a slew of streets? Or is there something else that people who live there identify as, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the boundary, everybody knows it,’ but it’s not officially in code?”
The Redistricting Task Force will consider communities of interest, areas that share common geography, social, economic or political history; community organizations; religious membership; income level; and education.
“These communities of interest will get together and say, ‘Alright, we identify with this neighborhood and therefore we think we should be in the same district currently,’ or ‘We should be in this district instead,’” Goh said. “And they will go to the Task Force and express this to them so it’s a lot of grassroots advocating for themselves. And that’s the process we’re encouraging people to do right now.”
The last time district lines were redrawn, Portola was initially split between Districts 9 and 10. Neighborhood advocates successfully fought to be placed in a single district, 9. Likewise, previous conversations have focused on whether Potrero Hill and Dogpatch should breakaway from Bayview and be placed in the same district as Mission Bay and South-of-Market.
People can redraw their own district lines and submit that map to the Task Force.
“We are interested in making sure that everybody gets a fair voice into where these lines are drawn,” Goh said. For that to happen, people have to get involved.
For more information on redistricting, or to submit comments to the Task Force, visit https://sf.gov/public-body/2020-census-redistricting-task-force.