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.
J. Michelle Pierce
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.