The city asked the community to comment on four possible redistricting maps that will affect politics and culture for the next decade, and a group of longstanding Mission nonprofits have spoken: Pick Map 4D, with modifications.
This design, like the others, combines all of Valencia Street into one district, which was seen as a plus by leaders representing Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, La Raza Community Resource Center and the American Indian Cultural District at a Friday press conference. Map 4D also preserves historic Latinx and American Indian spaces in District 9, which is key for the Mission’s cultural identity and its past of displacing Latinx and Native American residents, leaders said.
“We want to make sure that we keep our communities of interest intact,” said Erick Arguello who founded the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District.
But Map 4D is the only one of the Redistricting Task Force’s maps to keep the Tenderloin in District 6, which is a defining reason Latinx leaders support it over the other plans. “I also want to say that we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Tenderloin,” said Arguello. “What affects one of us, affects all of us.”
The question to unite all of Valencia under one district has been top of mind for neighborhood leaders, since currently the west side belongs to District 8 and the east side to District 9. While many Latinx activists want it to be joined, some Valencia merchants, like Manny Yekutiel of Manny’s and queer activists, asked to be in District 8. If adopted, Mandelman, who lives on Valencia and is gay, would be cut out of his district.
Apparently the Redistricting Task Force heeded the Mission’s calls, because all four designs unite Valencia in District 9. But Latinx leaders who spoke Friday reiterated the importance. From 2000 to 2013, the Mission lost 12 percent of its Latinx residents and gained roughly the same percentage of white residents. In that post-dot-com period, Valencia Street was viewed as the center of gentrification and lost much of its working class to higher-earning professionals and businesses, which advocates now dub “Valencia-fication.”
“We will never make up the population that we’ve lost in the Mission with any lines we draw,” said Gabriel Medina, executive director of La Raza. But “now, with these new proposed lines in Map D, we actually can unify Valencia Street, and hopefully stave off massive gentrification.”
Medina said this could invite more Latinx representation, which has been lacking since district elections were reinstated in 2000. David Campos has been the only Latinx supervisor since districtwide elections were reinstated in 2000. “We need to be able to have that empowerment for our people. We need to be able to have that voice,” Medina said.
Valencia is also home to a multitude of community resources, such as La Raza, Mission Housing, and Dolores Street Community Services, all which are on the District 8 side of the street.
“It’s really been a tale of two cities, right, where you see District 9, right across the street. And technically, right now, we are in District 8,” said Kevin Ortiz, the vice president of political affairs for the San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club, from his spot outside La Raza Community Resource Center at Valencia and 16th streets.
But even Map 4D has room for improvements. Arguello called for the boundaries to extend beyond Guerrero Street at 17th and 18th Streets out to Church Street, and add Guerrero between 22nd and 24th Streets into District 9. At present, this area is part of District 8.
Ortiz agreed, and advocated to include Guerrero Street south to 24th. The current map scoops up Mission High School, excluding other Latinx residents in the surrounding area, he said. Extending to Church would place a majority of the American Indian Cultural District, founded almost exactly two years ago on the dot, within District 9, in part thanks to support from District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen.
The addition of Church and inclusion of Valencia would “prevent dividing the future area of our American Indian Cultural District,” said Paloma Flores during a recent Redistricting Task Force meeting as a representative of the American Indian Cultural District.
Flores said she has worked for Native organizations since 2007 along 16th Street and witnessed the direct impacts of gentrification and displacement in the community for 15 years. The new map could mitigate those impacts, she said.
“Cultural districts are more than just a place on the map. They provide cultural resources and bring visibility to our community’s past, present and future.”
Map 4B actually encompasses more of that area than Map4D, but changes to Church and Guerrero would compensate for part of the loss. However, leaders Friday emphasized the need for Tenderloin to be in District 6, making Map 4D the front runner — with improvements.
The Redistricting Task Force is holding a community meeting Saturday, April 2, at 10 a.m. and must make a decision by April 15.