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SF Redistricting Drama Heads to Finale as New Map is Adopted

Written by Han Li, Mike EgePublished Apr. 22, 2022 • 12:28am
Zachary Sexton, a USF students and volunteer with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (center) protests proposed redistricting lines outside city hall on April 6, 2022. | Camille Cohen

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San Francisco’s Redistricting Task Force voted 5-4 Thursday night to approve a final map draft for new supervisor districts for the second time, bringing what has proved to be a highly contentious and politicized process close to resolution. 

Thursday’s meeting was held a week after the task force members missed the legal deadline to adopt the map amid a bitter series of protests from a variety of groups who argued that their representation would be diluted under the proposed maps.

Arnold Townsend, chair of the task force, voted yes to pass the map. “Whatever you choose, we will have to go to work,” said Townsend. “Hopefully we will come to a resolution.”

On the latest map, some notable changes include Potrero Hill being back to District 10, answering the calls from the Black community and putting the heavily Asian Portola neighborhood back to District 9, splitting it off from Asian-majority Visitacion Valley.

Similar to the first version of the final draft, the Tenderloin District, originally in District 6, is split from SoMa. Four members, Board of Supervisors appointees José María Hernandez Gil, Jeremy Lee, and J. Michelle Pierce, along with Elections Commission appointee Raynell Cooper, supported reuniting the Tenderloin and SoMa, but the motion failed.

Zachary Sexton, a USF students and volunteer with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (Organizing branch), and Liana Labarca, with Tenderloin Healthy Corner store Coalition, hold signs at a protest outside city hall on April 6, 2022. | Camille Cohen

Task Force Member Lily Ho, who strongly supported merging the Portola with Visitacion Valley into District 10, asked to address public commenters in Chinese. She’s saying “I wanted to thank the aunties and uncles for coming. I am heartbroken for them and very sorry we could not do more.” This provoked outrage from some audience members, and Townsend tried to calm them down.

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The latest episode in San Francisco’s redistricting drama began late Thursday morning with yet another protest outside of City Hall. Afterwards, events moved inside as the Redistricting Task Force deliberated for almost three hours and then listened to another five hours of public comment before the vote.

Much of the public comment reiterated points made at previous meetings that were critical of the process, often from the same speakers. 

Under guidance published by the City Attorney this week, the task force can only make minor or technical changes to the draft map before submitting a fully finalized version on April 28. The next meeting is scheduled for April 25.

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