SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – A number of LGBTQ organizations are holding a press conference at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday “condemning the efforts by the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force to divide trans and queer communities,” according to a news release.
The press conference is the latest of San Franciscans’ complaints about this year’s process. The borders of the city’s supervisor districts are redrawn every 10 years after U.S. Census data are released.
There are 11 districts in San Francisco, each represented by a single supervisor.
As KRON4 reported Monday, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told us he’d be drawn out of his own district under new proposed boundaries.
Mandelman represents a heavily LGBTQ district that includes the Castro neighborhood. He’s concerned that the new borders would dilute the political power of the community.
The activists who will be holding the press conference at Turk and Taylor streets in the Tenderloin this morning are also concerned about losing representation, but they are in District 6, which includes south of Market and the Tenderloin.
Since District 6 saw such population growth between 2010 and 2020, it will have to shrink in size.
But representatives of the Transgender District, the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, the Alice B Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club, the GLBTQ+ Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA), Equality California, and the SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District agree that separating SOMA and the Tenderloin will further dilute the voting power of LGBTQ San Franciscans.
The Tenderloin and SOMA are both heavily LGBTQ neighborhoods with decades of history between them. Under the new proposals, part of the Tenderloin would be in District 5 along with the Western Addition and Japantown.
Edward Wright, the president of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, said that the task force seems “set” on dividing the LGBTQ community.
“It’s clear the Redistricting Task Force is ignoring public input while moving forward this attempt to politically displace the world’s first recognized Transgender Cultural District, severing the Tenderloin from its deep ties with western SOMA and District 6, and from the world’s first recognized Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District,” Wright told KRON4. “At a time when trans people are under legal assault across the country and there is only a single LGBTQ city legislator in the entire Bay Area [Mandelman], this is an unthinkable and unacceptable step backward.”
Gary McCoy spoke on behalf of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club. He’s the senior co-chair of the club.
McCoy said that “our representation on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is at a historic low” because there’s only one gay member of the board.
“We stand united with the Tenderloin and SoMa LGBTQ communities in ensuring our voice and power is not diluted between two separate districts,” McCoy told KRON4. “Our struggles in the LGBTQ community are far from over.”
Other areas of the city that could see changes: part of south of Market might be joined to District 3, which currently encompasses the Financial District, Chinatown and North Beach, and more of the Inner Sunset might be joined to District 5, which currently encompasses the Haight and Japantown. (The Haight would be in District 1 under at least one new proposal.)
The next task force meeting is April 2 at 10 a.m. The meetings are virtual, and people can call in to address their concerns to the task force, which must have a final decision in a few weeks.
Ditka Reiner, vice chair of the task force, told KRON4 that said that the district populations have to be within 1% of the mean at first, though they can go up to 5% in either direction to accommodate a community of interest.
This means that “it’s a really hard map to square.” Initial maps are as close to the mean as possible, Reiner said, so that accommodations can be made later.
“We are trying to do a really good job,” Reiner said. “Nobody is trying to map anyone out of any of their districts.”
The final map has to be submitted by April 14.