Atop Potrero Hill and a stones’ throw from the new public housing development, 30 protesters raised their voices: “We shall not be moved.”

On Friday, Potrero Hill residents organized a rally calling for the Redistricting Task Force to adopt the “healing map,” the latest version of the map the task force worked on after rejecting a controversial final map 5-4. The protesters, many of them Black community leaders, pointed to the controversial redistricting map as a prime example of how San Francisco failed minorities.  

MAPS: You can see a slide show of the community unity map here

You can see the map the redistricting force will start with on April 21 here.

“What I saw is the map that caused violence, that caused socioeconomic harm, that caused division that disenfranchised,” said Cheryl Thornton, referring to the final rejected map that put Portola in District 10 and Potrero Hill in District 9. 

When the Redistricting Task Force meets again on April 21, members will begin with the more favorable “healing map,” but Friday’s protesters made it clear that few trust the process. 

San Francisco has been in the midst of a redistricting process tasked with dividing the city into 11 supervisorial districts of roughly equal population. The redistricting process urges “communities of interest” to stay together, said J.R. Eppler, the president of the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association. But “the task force wasn’t listening.” 

Over the last two weeks, the process has become increasingly chaotic, with vote reversals, members walking out and meetings that last for nearly 20 hours. 

Although the most-disliked map was finally rejected on Wednesday, the community members who gathered today still fear that Potrero Hill will end up being moved out of District 10. Advocates on Friday said doing so makes it harder for its residents to be represented or listened to. Already, most of them feel overlooked despite years of advocacy. 

“We have allies, we work together, and we have worked really hard to build up these relationships,” said Uzuri Pease-Green, a community leader in Potrero Hill. 

“If they separate D10, that means we’re separating our community from where we can get all the resources and necessary needs for our folks,” said Tino Felise, from the Samoan Community Development Center.

Standing in front of the San Francisco Housing Authority, Pease-Green and other residents argued the switch would put them in the Mission where incomes are higher, a move that would cause the issues of low-income residents to go overlooked. 

Other concerns revolve around racial voting power. The push to move the heavily-Asian Portola neighborhood to District 10 bolsters the Asian vote, which causes concern among residents that it would impede the district’s ability to vote for another Black supervisor. 

“You watered down the Black vote, because D10 is where we’re able to have our voices in voting,” Pease-Green said. That voice is necessary to ensure “we can continue to have a Black supervisor.”

Since supervisorial districts were reinstated in 2000, three District 10 supervisors have been Black, including Sophie Maxwell, Malia Cohen and Shamann Walton. At present, the top three ethnic populations living in District 10 are Asians, Latinxs and Blacks. 

Portola resident Shirley Chen, who is Asian, said the map that was controversial “has been harmful” and splits “apart so many communities who have long struggled for survival: Immigrants, South Asian, Black, queer and transgender” folk, while prioritizing white and affluent neighborhoods. “We need to work together to win a fair map in the short term, and to build true cross-racial understanding and solidarity in the long term.” 

Advocates also pointed out a lack of transparent process and how meetings run long into the night when residents are asleep. Other speakers zeroed in on the controversial Sunday night meeting where Vice Chair Ditka Reiner at first voted against the map that would change the districts of Portola and Potrero Hill, and then reversed her vote after a recess to move members’ cars. 

“They try to leave to move their cars, to come back and say, ‘I voted on the wrong map.’ Now you think we’re stupid,” said Pease-Green. “And now, you’re just being plain downright disrespectful.” 

Tenika Blue, a Potrero Hill resident, challenged text messages where Thornton asked Chair Arnold Townsend why he put Portola in District 10. Townsend replied, “I have no choice.” Another task force member, Raynell Cooper, told Mission Local that Townsend appeared to be pressured by the mayor to vote a certain way. 

“Being at the table means you have a choice,” Blue told Mission Local. “Who are you representing? It’s sketchy. I feel like we’re overlooked a lot, and people are in positions of power and not doing the work.” 

The community will continue to advocate for a fair map, the Community Unity Map, for the task force to adopt on April 21. 

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Follow Us

REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

  1. The Community Unity Map is the only way forward. But the Mayor has rigged the process so that Mary Jung and the SF Realtors Association along with market rate developers can continue to destroy lower income areas of SF.

  2. This is all predicated upon the legitimacy of the representational claims between city funded nonprofits and the communities that they purport to serve, when we know that the bottom line of the agency is always going to take precedence over the interests of residents.

    The claims are never tested, just repeated as received wisdom. What percentage of various communities are served by the service provider nonprofits? How successful has land use advocacy been in stabilizing communities in place, in growing communities recovering from threat? What’s the likelihood of avoiding displacement upon eviction?

    The legitimacy here has to be evaluated relative to the penetration of these services into communities and the production of desired outcomes over time.

    I wish there were a map that both threw the nonprofit leeches off of the city teat AND did not gerrymander districts to throw elections.

    Nobody making maps has any interest in ensuring resident representation over for- and non-profit corporate interests.

  3. “D10 is where we’re able to have our voices in voting,” Pease-Green said. “That voice is necessary to ensure “we can continue to have a Black supervisor.”

    Approximating the city’s demographic mix, it is 45% white, 35% Asian, 15% Hispanic and 5% black.

    Logic therefore would dictate that we should have 5 white supervisors, 4 Asian supervisors, with the remaining 2 supervisors split between Hispanics and blacks.

    In population terms there is no necessity to have a black supervisor unless the Board had 20 members or so.

Leave a comment
Please keep your comments short and civil. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published.