In a 5-4 vote tonight, the Redistricting Task Force once again selected a final draft map.
The selected map splits the Tenderloin away from SoMa. Unlike last week’s rejected map, it keeps Potrero Hill in District 10 and Portola in District 9.
The map was approved by Chair Rev. Arnold Townsend, Vice Chair Ditka Reiner, and members Matthew Castillon, Chasel Lee and Lily Ho. It was opposed by members Jeremy Lee, J. Michelle Pierce, Chema Hernández Gil, and Raynell Cooper.
The map’s selection was the latest controversial move from a task force that, over the past few weeks, has pivoted from map to map in meetings that often ended only hours before dawn. Even this final map is poised to see opposition in the coming days.
“At least five of us have publicly denounced the legitimacy of this process,” said member Hernández Gil shortly after the map passed.
He said that the task force had never created a process to “fairly organize the hundreds of comments we have received.” He added that the map selected today made “fair and effective representation more elusive, and maybe unattainable” for some marginalized communities.
As in previous meetings, today had its fair share of unexpected turns. At the end of last week’s meeting, members said they would begin again with Map 7, previously nicknamed the “healing map” or the “blow up map”. That starting point was noted in today’s agenda.
However, the task force was free to discuss any draft map from previous weeks, and five of the task force members opted to do just that. As the meeting started, they returned to the map voted down last week. Townsend immediately amended that map, moving Portola into District 9 and Potrero Hill into District 10; moves that have been called for in public comment by Black advocates from District 10.
A later motion from member Pierce moved Dogpatch from District 6 into District 10. Another, put forward by Cooper, attempted to recombine the Tenderloin with District 6 but failed, 5-4, along the same lines as the final map’s approval.
This map will very likely be approved by the task force on Thursday, April 28, to avoid missing a Department of Elections mandate of May 2. There is one more meeting scheduled before that approval meeting, which is intended for making minor “technical” adjustments, such as moving individual census blocks and fixing errors.
So, despite public comment, the Tenderloin and SoMa appear destined to remain split.
Data from the Redistricting Task Force. This map compares the final draft map approved on April 21, the final draft map rejected the week before, and San Francisco’s current district boundaries.
“The most public comment you’ve heard in this entire process, all the meetings combined, has been for the Tenderloin and SoMa to stay together,” said Curtis Bradford, co-chair of the Tenderloin People’s Congress. “And still you voted to separate it.”
“The task force willingly splitting the trans district in half is outright transphobia,” said Jupiter Peraza, director of social justice initiatives for the Transgender District.
Peraza told Mission Local that she was looking into the possibility of taking the map to court for allegedly violating the City Charter by disregarding communities of interest. Kim Tavaglione of the San Francisco Labor Council and Joseph Bryant of SEIU 1021 have previously said that they were open to pursuing legal challenges to earlier iterations of the map approved today.
Theirs would not be the first litigation filed against the task force.
On Tuesday, the task force was hit with a lawsuit headed up by Todd David, executive director of the Housing Action Coalition, after it missed its April 15 deadline. The plaintiffs alleged in a statement that “extreme partisan interests successfully intimidated” the task force into delaying past the deadline outlined in the City Charter. David said that the lawsuit was a “safety valve” that would allow the process to be thrown to a judge in the event that a map was not selected tonight.
After the map was selected, David said that they would be keeping the lawsuit active, but that it would not be invoked unless the map was somehow deselected in the coming week.
There were multiple minor disturbances during tonight’s nine-and-a-half-hour meeting. The audience was admonished several times by the chair for shouting out and interrupting speakers, and at one point an activist was escorted from the room by deputies.
Some 190 people called in for public comment, which was limited to one minute per person.
The task force’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 25.