SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The Redistricting Task Force approved a final map of the city’s supervisor districts for the next decade Thursday — ratifying a controversial new border between the Tenderloin and south of Market neighborhoods that has riled city politics.
The borders of the city’s 11 supervisor districts are redrawn every 10 years after U.S. Census data are released by a task force with members appointed by the mayor, the board of supervisors and the elections commission. The task force had an April 15 deadline to come up with a map of districts of roughly equal population size.
Initial maps elicited protests from activists for splitting the Tenderloin and south of Market neighborhoods, which historically had been in a single district. They argued, among other things, that doing so would dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community, which has a long history in those neighborhoods. (The Tenderloin is home to the world’s first transgender cultural district; south of Market to the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District.) District 6 saw a large increase in population between 2010 and 2020, proponents of the change argued, and thus both neighborhoods could no longer fit in a district of roughly equal size to the others.
One way to keep the Tenderloin in District 6 could have been to move part of south of Market (Rincon Hill) into District 3, which contains Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Financial District. Another controversial proposal was splitting the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood from District 5, instead placing it in District 1, which contains the Richmond neighborhood.
Under public pressure, the elections commission decided to reconsider its appointments to the task force — only to decide to keep them after being blasted by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Mayor London Breed.
“Let’s be clear: The Elections Commission’s move, under political pressure, to replace its appointees would send a clear signal that San Francisco’s redistricting process is about raw, hardball political power and nothing else,” Wiener stated.
In the final map, Haight-Ashbury was kept within District 5, but south of Market and the Tenderloin were split, with the latter also being in District 5. None of south of Market was included in District 3. Further, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s home will remain within his district, thus allowing him to run for re-election there.
The controversy led the task force to blow through its deadline, adopting the final map 13 days later in a 5-4 vote, with the supervisor’s picks for the task force voting against, the mayor’s appointments voting in favor, and the election commission’s appointments split two voting in favor and one against. The task force faced a lawsuit due to the delay in approving the map.
Some opponents of the new map believe it was intentionally drawn to favor political moderates, which some members of the public stated during the Thursday morning meeting.
Edward Wright of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club told KRON4 shortly before the map’s approval that “I cannot condemn this strongly enough.”
“The map approved by a slim majority of the redistricting task force is an assault on the right to fair and equal representation for trans and queer San Franciscans,” he wrote. “As trans people face legal attacks and violence across the country, the only transgender cultural district in the world has been severed and displaced, against the unified demands of every LGBTQ civic organization in San Francisco.”
KRON4 reached out to the task force to get comment post-vote, but has not heard back.