Jupiter Peraza at a Redistricting Task Force rally condemning the new map and the task force's practices. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken April 11, 2022.

On the eve of one of the last Redistricting Task Force meetings Monday night, at least 100 frustrated San Franciscans took to City Hall and accused the task force of “backroom” decisions that led to a map that divides marginalized communities. 

The Redistricting Task Force, composed of nine members, are tasked with redrawing supervisorial districts every 10 years, based on Census population data, by a certain deadline. The requirements expect each district to encompass an equal number of people, so residents get represented equally.  In San Francisco, that means districts of roughly 79,545 residents, plus or minus 5 percent.

On Monday, residents who identify as transgender, Black, Filipino, Chinese and Latinx, and who represent various neighborhoods, spoke out against the lack of transparency, demanded a new map even if it meant missing the deadline, and threatened to sue the task force. Several protesters raised homemade signs that questioned the task force’s transparency, reading, “We don’t trust the Redistricting Task Force,” “Task Force or Task Farce?” and “No tratos a escondidas.”

The rally was called after Sunday’s meeting, in which the task force voted on a map that put Potrero Hill in District 9 and the Portola in District 10.

“We demand transparency and integrity. This process is fundamental, and we have lost complete trust in our redistricting task force,” said Jupiter Peraza, a transgender woman who attended the rally and has been a vocal advocate in the redistricting process. Kevin Ortiz, the vice president of political affairs for the SF Latinx Democratic Club, and others, said they believe the task force’s actions on Sunday could be interpreted as violating the Brown Act, which requires transparency during government meetings. “If this map gets passed this week, we are going to file a lawsuit,” he said.

Ortiz and others questioned the task force’s transparency because, on Sunday, the task force initially rejected the controversial map in a 5-4 vote, but after a recess, they returned and vice-chair Ditka Reiner said she had been mistaken in her vote. Another vote was taken, and the map was approved in a 5-4 vote. The move triggered a walkout by four members of the Task Force committee, and some questioned the integrity of the process and the other members. 

The protesters, many of whom represent or work for neighborhood community groups like SOMA Pilipinas, the Latino Task Force, SF Rising, the American Indian Cultural District and more, demanded the map be changed. They criticized how Sunday’s vote to put Potrero Hill in District 9 and Portola in District 10 would “dilute” the political power of Latinx and Black residents.

“You cannot tell Black people that they don’t matter,” said Uzuri Pease-Green. 

One activist passed out the latest version of the map task force members were working on. “It’s the bad one,” his young daughter clarified. 

Minutes later, the crowd stormed into City Hall and up the stairs to file into the Redistricting Task Force meeting. Unable to hold everyone in the room, spectators were asked to join in two viewing rooms where a TV live-streamed the meeting. “This is our life for 10 years again,” said one member of SOMA Pilipinas. She said that, while the Tenderloin has had its problems, the existing community relations were improving it. “But now they will chop it up again. How can we continue the improvement of these communities if you keep changing it?”

“Today, we’re not just making a map,” said Sharaya Souza, the executive director of the American Indian Cultural District, earlier in the rally. “The decisions that we make today are going to impact our communities — how our voting, our resources, all of those things are allocated and distributed.”

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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.

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10 Comments

  1. ““You cannot tell Black people that they don’t matter,” said Uzuri Pease-Green.”

    Hmm, let’s see. Blacks are 5% of SF voters and, for as long as I can recall, there has always been at least 1/11 black supervisor, and often 2/11. Oh, and by the way there have been two black mayors in the last 25 years.

    Seems to me that historically blacks have been over-represented, given the above. The real injustice is for Asians, who are over one third of the populations but only 2/11 supervisors: Chan and Mar.

  2. Can anyone articulate why moving portrero hill to 9 and portola to 10 dilutes the black vote? like actual numbers of how many were in each district and what the change will be?

    I haven’t seen any articles anywhere stating the actual numbers/percentage differences each map contains. Maybe if folks could articulate the numbers, we could more easily understand what is going on and why folks are protesting.

    Are their breakdowns of the race/minority groups in the current map vs. the one being proposed? Where would this information be found and why are the folks protesting not stating these figures? If we had the numbers we could better decide whether folks are just whining or if they have a legitimate gripe. How do we know who to believe without the statistics??

    1. I guess their theory is that if blacks mainly live in just one district then they can have a disproportionate effect on elections there, and perhaps ensure the winning candidate is usually black. As noted above that actually ensures over-representation versus their population percentage, which is equivalent to half a supervisor (5%).

      Split that population across two districts and they do not have a critical mass in either.

      But a better question is why anyone would assume that people always vote for someone of the same race as themselves? And why the obsession about race at all?

  3. District elections have done little more than fragment this already fractured city. After listening to most of the recent meetings, it’s clear that the usual non profits and special-interest groups are stirring the pot. They do not propose solutions or compromise. Instead we hear claims of racism, “genocide” and marginalization. They all read from the same script, making sure to give lip service to the poor, the oppressed, the disinherited, the usual list of victims that the nonprofit scammers cite as political leverage.

    I have yet to hear one aggrieved person state that s/he would make an effort to work with any of the proposed maps. Instead, each says, “I want this” or “I want that” and if you don’t give it to me, you are a racist, a tyrant, an oppressor.

    Is anyone else sick of this culture of victimization? The world is not going to end because someone’s supervisory district has changed. This torrent of outrage was clearly orchestrated by Preston, who stands to lose his white voting bloc and to inherit the Tenderloin and its problems. To see elected officials stand on the City Hall steps and interfere in a democratic process was quite sad.

    Grow up, San Franciscans.

    1. “Grow up, San Franciscans.”

      I fear that you do not understand this city. People move here to avoid growing up. This is the Peter Pan city.

      That sad fifty year old punk rocker around the corner from you who clings to a rent-controlled hovel in the Mission with white knuckles, moved here precisely because he knew he could not survive anywhere else.

    2. Our 20-year experiment in District elections has been an abject failure.

      It increases factionalism/extremism and has resulted in a poor caliber of politician, a general fecklessness/myopia and an inability to address the City’s most pressing problems: homelessness, the chronic housing shortage (resulting in runaway housing costs), rampant drug abuse, escalating lawlessness, etc.

      We need to return to the election of Supervisors on a City-wide basis.

  4. I can’t think of a more thankless task than being on a redistricting committee. No matter what lines they draw someone will object. Maybe just go back to the at large system. I also hate the thought that I vote as a white gay male or a purple nonbinary Martian rather than as an individual.

  5. Do not be fooled.

    None of this is really about “communities” or “vulnerable people.”

    This is all about political angling. In a city that has not elected a “progressive” mayor via the popular vote across the city in four decades, yet has a BoS that tilts left, the professional activist class know that the new boundaries put at risk the seats of Dean Preston (who now will have to actually win some Black votes) and the seat that was abandoned by Matt Haney so he could move up (that district loses a chunk of voters in the Tenderloin to D5, and gains a bunch in Potrero Hill).

    What that means is that the current balance – the BoS is controlled by Peskin, Ronen, and the far left coalition. Dean is perhaps the furthest left of the bunch. Tipping a couple of seats back to more moderate Democrats changes the political calculus.

    THAT is what all the noise is really about. Dean is at risk, and the new voters in and out of D6 means uncertainty for who will replace Haney.

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