District 5 sees some of the biggest changes in the preliminary district maps.

A new proposal for redrawing the city’s 11 supervisor districts splits the Tenderloin and SoMa apart, pushing the Tenderloin out of District 6 and into District 5, a move advocates say would fundamentally alter both areas’ economic and political characteristics.

“Folks who work in those neighborhoods really see them as connected,” said Raynell Cooper, a transportation planner for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and member of the nine-strong Redistricting Task Force. Cooper voted against the plan in a 5 to 4 split.

Cooper added that there was a “preponderance of input” during public meetings to keep them together: “I haven’t heard any arguments for specifically separating SoMa and the Tenderloin.”

Instead, he said, the split was largely a consequence of other changes in the northeast part of the city, with other priorities superseding the placement of the Tenderloin. But even those who voted in favor of the provisional map appeared aware of the implications. 

“This is a tough choice. This is the fork in the road,” said Chasel Lee, an Elections Commission appointee like Cooper, before voting in favor of the move on Friday. While those who voted in favor reminded listeners that the maps were provisional, the task force’s 15 April deadline for a finalized plan is rapidly approaching, and the window for changes is shrinking.

Use the map below to explore the newly proposed boundaries, compare them to the current boundaries, and see how our districts’ economic characteristics and demographics may be about to change.

Proposed districts and household income

Data from the Redistricting Task Force and from the 2020 American Community Survey. Please note: The proposed boundaries are not fixed and will be updated in the coming weeks. You can access a full-screen version of the map here.

Proposed districts and racial demographics

Data from the Redistricting Task Force and from the 2020 American Community Survey. Please note: The proposed boundaries are not fixed and will be updated in the coming weeks. Racial populations include those who reported as multi-racial; white, Black, and Asian populations include only non-Hispanic. You can access a full-screen version of the map here.

This new map would see District 6 jettison the lower-income Tenderloin while expanding southward to incorporate Dogpatch. Dogpatch is one of the city’s wealthiest areas; its main census tract has a median household income of $218,000, according to the 2020 American Community Survey.

This would raise the median income, and perhaps alter concerns about development, in District 6. At the same time, District 5 would shrink considerably, absorbing the Tenderloin but losing tracts in Haight-Ashbury, Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset.

Members of the public voiced their concerns about the plan during the task force’s meetings on Friday and Saturday.

“When we were talking today about dividing the Tenderloin from Central SoMa, we were talking about splitting up the LGBTQ community that lives in the downtown central city neighborhood,” said Curtis Bradford, co-chair of the Tenderloin People’s Congress.

“Our communities are under attack,” said Curtis. He added that drawing an “imaginary line” down the middle of Market Street “seeks to diminish us, to divide us, and causes real harm.”

Rev. Arnold Townsend, the chair of the Redistricting Task Force, voted in favor of the map that included the Tenderloin change, arguing that it would lead to a higher Black population in District 5.

“If you join the black population with the District 5 population and Fillmore, you create a stronger Black voting district,” said Townsend. “I have no insecurity in saying that the most beset-upon and the most diminished voting block in the city is the Black community.”

If the current map were implemented, District 5 would see an increase in its Black population, from 9.2 percent to 13.5 percent. In District 6, there would be a decrease, from 10.5 percent to 8.5 percent, according to the task force’s data.

The vote approving the map that sliced the Tenderloin away from District 6 was approved in a 5 to 4 vote. The redistricting task force has three members appointed by the Elections Commission, three by the board of supervisors, and three by Mayor London Breed.

Name

Appointment

Vote

Elections

Commission

No

Raynell Cooper

Elections

Commission

Yes

Chasel Lee

Elections

Commission

Yes

Ditka Reiner

Chema

Hernández Gil

Board of

Supervisors

No

Board of

Supervisors

No

Jeremy Lee

Board of

Supervisors

No

J. Michelle Pierce

Yes

Matthew Castillon

Mayor Breed

Yes

Lily Ho

Mayor Breed

Yes

Arnold Townsend

Mayor Breed

Why is the city redrawing districts, and why does it matter?

District boundaries are reevaluated every ten years, when a new census is taken. By law, they must be redrawn if too big a difference has emerged in the population size of each district. But a careful balancing act is necessary to make sure changes do not break apart historically and culturally connected neighborhoods.

New district boundaries have far-reaching ramifications for the city. The district you live in may affect how city government funds are spent and which housing initiatives your supervisor supports. It may change how you interact with city services. New boundaries also mean new demographics in each district, which can change the dynamics of supervisor elections and alter how community groups organize.

The advocacy group San Francisco Unity Map Coalition argued that “redistricting has often been used to diminish the power of communities of color.” This can happen when traditionally Black or Brown areas are split up, and their votes become diluted in their new districts.

Raquel Redondiez, director of SOMA Pilipinas, said that 30 percent of District 6 Filipinos currently live in the Tenderloin.

“By moving the Tenderloin to a totally different district, it effectively divides our community,” she said. “And this is a community that’s already borne the brunt of hyper development in the city.”

“We’re really concerned that despite the fact that the task force has said they wanted to hear from all communities, particularly people of color and vulnerable communities, it seems like what they’re doing is actually listening more to affluent neighborhoods,” she said.

There are comparatively few changes to District 9, home of the Mission, in the task force’s latest map. The northern end of the district is set to widen, taking in all the blocks between Guerrero Street and Potrero Avenue, as well as a few blocks up to Mission High School.

We will be updating this article with boundaries and analysis as new maps are released. You can find out more on the Redistricting Task Force’s website, or join their next meeting online on Saturday, April 2, at 10 a.m.

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DATA REPORTER. Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

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15 Comments

  1. This is an intentional cracking of the progressive core of SF that would do the Texas Republicans proud.

  2. The only task force member who seems cool and on the level is Raynell Cooper. All the rest are either incompetent or actually on a coordinated path of destruction aimed by someone at the Board of Supervisors.

    Worst among them is the vice chair, who is certainly coordinating with the redistricting consultants on the background to control the mapping process and shape the maps being returned “at the task force’s direction.” She was appointed by the elections commission and likely has been hand picked by the director of elections.

    The vice chair wrote the “mapping procedures” which are constraining the task force from actually operating as anyone would expect. The other task force members seem bewildered by these rules and don’t know how to move forward.

    It is all likely to wind up challenged in court.

  3. Hmmm, commenters seem convinced that the new map is attempting to limit the power of progressives, but they don’t agree with how it’s doing that. I hear that this is done by “packing” D5 with progressive areas but I also hear that this is done by breaking up the progressiveness of D5. It can’t be both!

    It’s always good to think critically about how maps are drawn, but it seems like people have the thinking backwards: first assume that redistricting is trying to hurt progressives, and then find a reason for why that is.

    I don’t think the process is flawless here in SF by any means, but comparing it to what’s going on in red states like Texas really cheapens how bad things are out there.

  4. Great news, as this is a big improvement over the prior drafts. I am happy to see that District 9 is essentially intact and keeping the entire Portola District (an 85% minority district), which in one prior draft was broken up and partly shifted to Districts 11 and 10. It seems like the supervisor-appointed committee members vote incorrectly on every draft while the mayoral appointees are doing an excellent job. When will we move back to at-large districts so that we do not have to deal with this local redistricting?

  5. At first glance, it seems that District 7 may be worsened and made more extreme and less democratic by taking the Inner Sunset from District 5. District 5 might actually become better and more moderate by losing the trust fund hipsters of the Haight and the Panhandle (although maybe not with the addition of the Tenderloin). I would think that gaining Dogpatch and some other parts of Potrero Hill might help to make District 6 more moderate (but could make District 10 more radical). Fortunately, Duboce Triangle will remaining in District 8, although some other parts of the Castro will be shifted to District 9.

  6. So, were the existing districts way out of whack on population and needing change or is this just a way for some powerful people to push whatever they think will help them? I mean, do we have to change the boundaries?

  7. Many of the changes seem logical or minor. Shifting Seacliff to District 1 from District 2 might improve District 1 and make it a bit more moderate. Shifting Lakeside from District 7 to 4 might slightly help 4 while hurting 7. Moving Russian Hill from District 2 to District 3 obviously makes sense geographically and culturally and could strengthen District 3. Overall, the map is definitely an improvement over the previous drafts and probably an improvement over the current map.

  8. Dear Dean:
    I echo your sentiments wholeheartedly. Time to get rid of districts or at least to have at large seats added to Board of Supervisors. Identity politics and narrow voting blocks have brought SF to it’s knees. Representatives should represent all of the citizens of SF not “special” interest. And, not to mention how the Public Schools have suffered as a result of district elections. I think even Willie Brown who supported District Elections might have a different view now!

  9. The job of the Redistricting Task Force is to rebalance supervisorial districts according to the latest census data (2020). The goal is to have all 11 districts have about 79,545 residents, plus or minus 5%. D5 is currently within the population limits, about 1.5% over [5% is the maximum deviation]. There are too many people in D6, D9, and D10 and too few people on the westside, so this impacts all of the districts. Once the Task Force determines the new boundaries (no later than April 15), they become effective IMMEDIATELY. Per redistricting laws, neither the Mayor nor the Board of Supervisors approves the new boundaries. The Task Force is required by law to balance the number of district residents AND to preserve Communities of Interest, not either or.

  10. …….not only that but before last Friday’s divisive speech, the Task Force and hundreds of members of the public were actively engaged in the difficult challenge of attempting to tweek the district map. At the beginning of this process, D5 had the least population change. Original task was to redistict maybe 1200 people out of D5, but a number of the Task Force consultant’s maps would cut 37000 people out of D5 into other districts. That is over 30 times the bench mark. Why?? Why D5??

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