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Panel set to finalize new SF political map

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The San Francisco Redistricting Task Force will vote on this final map April 28. Photo: Screengrab
The San Francisco Redistricting Task Force will vote on this final map April 28. Photo: Screengrab  

The San Francisco Redistricting Task Force is set to vote Thursday one last time on a new map for the city's 11 supervisorial districts. It will bring to a close a line drawing process that has upset LGBTQ leaders and likely make moot a lawsuit filed against the panel.

District 8 will continue to have the Castro LGBTQ district at its center but will be losing parts of the Mission Dolores neighborhood and nearly all of the Valencia Street corridor to District 9. It is expanding northward with the addition of Cole Valley and Ashbury Heights from District 5.

Due to a carve out that saw his residence on Valencia between 24th and 25th streets remain in District 8, gay Supervisor Rafael Mandelman will be able to run for reelection in the fall without having to move.

"It is a much better map than the first one that came out, obviously," said Mandelman, referring to an initial proposal that removed his residence from the district and cut out Duboce Triangle from it. "I am sad to be losing a big chunk of that Valencia corridor, but I am looking forward to getting to know the residents and businesses of Cole Valley."

Trans district split
San Francisco's historic transgender neighborhood is getting a new supervisorial home due to the decision to move the Tenderloin out of District 6 and into a new District 5. LGBTQ advocates lost their battle to see it remain in D6 with the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District in western South of Market.

A small section of the Transgender District running along Sixth Street will remain a part of District 6. But transgender leaders had argued it made no sense to move the bulk of their cultural district into District 5, where it will be combined with the Western Addition, Japantown, Alamo Square, and the Haight.

Their concerns ranged from seeing the neighborhood's political power diminished to the impact it will have on financial resources for the community since the city often divvies up funding by supervisorial districts. At the task force's April 21 meeting Jupiter Peraza, director of social justice and empowerment initiatives for the Transgender District, called the decision to split the two LGBTQ districts up "blatant transphobia."

She likened it to "Republican state legislatures across the country criminalizing being transgender. I am shocked."

As for SOMA, it is staying in District 6 along with Rincon Hill, Yerba Buena Gardens, and Mission Bay. The neighboring Districts 9 and 10 are also largely remaining the same.

Task force chair the Reverend Arnold Townsend had voted along with vice chair Ditka Reiner, Matthew Castillon, Lily Ho, and Chasel Lee, one of two queer men on the panel, in support of breaking up the current District 6. Townsend had argued for weeks that he wanted to see the Tenderloin combined with the Western Addition in order to bolster the political power of Black residents in the two neighborhoods.

Whether doing so increases the chances of a Black candidate winning the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors remains to be seen. The current officeholder, Supervisor Dean Preston, is white and will stand for reelection in 2024.

Task force member J. Michelle Pierce had fought to keep the Tenderloin in District 6. She explained at the April 21 meeting that her main reason for doing so was because "in this city we do really tie funding to supervisorial districts we have." Thus, Pierce added, "my concern is that we really are putting people's lives in danger when we do it this way."

Task force member Jose Maria (Chema) Hernández Gil also had argued for keeping the Tenderloin with SOMA in District 6 so that its residents wouldn't see their representation at City Hall diminish.

"I am talking about their ability to write to their supervisor and get their issues addressed," he said. "I am still very confused as to why we have to rehash what should be a pretty obvious legal and moral issue."

Voting with Gil and Pierce were Raynell Cooper and Jeremy Lee, the other out member on the task force. While the four voted with the other task force members at their April 25 meeting in support of several minor tweaks to the proposed map, it is expected they will once again vote in the minority to reject the new boundaries for the supervisor districts when the task force reconvenes at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 28.

Lawsuit unlikely to proceed
Even if the vote is again split 5-4 to approve the final version of the new map, the task force's completing its work should also bring to a close a lawsuit that three San Francisco residents had filed April 19 against it. One of the litigants, Noe Valley resident Todd David, told the Bay Area Reporter there would be no reason to continue on with the case once a map is approved.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer has scheduled a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, in the matter. He is likely to dismiss the lawsuit should the task force wrap up its deliberations Thursday.

The lawsuit had been filed as a "fail-safe" measure to have the courts step in if the task force failed to settle on a proposed map at its meeting last Thursday, explained David. It had missed its April 15 deadline as mandated in the city charter, and the city attorney's office had informed the task force it needed to vote on a map at its April 21 meeting.

The city's elections department has said it needs to know what the new map is going to be by May 2 so it can begin to prepare for the November election where the even-numbered supervisor seats will be on the ballot. Mandelman will be courting voters in the newly drawn District 8, which will continue to include the neighborhoods of Twin Peaks, Corona Heights, Duboce Triangle, the Castro, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights and Glen Park. The 100 block of Valencia Street where the Chan National Queer Arts Center, home to the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, is located also is remaining in D8.

"I think the district is probably a little more moderate, definitely a little less Latino, and I think a little less queer. But overall, I think it is still a district that would probably favor a queer candidate," said Mandelman.

For information about the task force's April 28 meeting and to view the map it is now set to approve, visit its website .


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