And with a week left to come up with a finalized map, this is crunch time for the task force.
Here’s your update on where the map stands as of last night. Please note that this map is still preliminary and there will be more edits in the coming days.
The task force stuck with Map 4B
Unlike in previous meetings, the task force put off public comment Wednesday evening until after it reworked the map that it had most recently adopted. That would be Map 4B, which cuts SoMa and the Tenderloin out of District 6 and puts both in District 5.
Map 4B is controversial enough to have moved the Elections Commission on Wednesday to schedule a Friday meeting to consider recalling its three appointees to the task force. Mayor London Breed and Sen. Scott Wiener have today criticized the Elections Commission’s decision.
Putting off public comment last night meant that the task force could avoid working too late, when members would be tired and there would be less public accountability. It also meant they could work on an unpopular map without first hearing the public’s displeasure.
After two and a half hours of line drawing, the map’s popularity with commenters did not change. In the comments that came later, the firm majority of public comments leaned towards the task force shelving Map 4B and readopting Map 4D.
“4B versus 4D is class warfare, let’s be clear,” said one commenter. Another said that the public comment process was “a façade for decisions that were made elsewhere.”
“Map 4D has a lot going for it, and still has a lot going for it,” said task force member Raynell Cooper. “But the one thing that made that map difficult is that it is a house of cards.”
Cooper explained the task force’s quandary: If the task force was unwilling to put Russian Hill in District 2 (a move he favored on Monday but which was defeated in a 5-4 vote), then it would be difficult to make the math work on the east side of the city without chopping up marginalized neighborhoods, he said. Several of the eastern districts in Map 4D are close to the upper-bound of their legal population limit.
Chair Arnold Townsend acknowledged that they had heard lots of comments in favor of Map 4D, but suggested that “the majority of them were from one district.”
“It’s not that we’re not listening to public comment,” said Townsend. “We are, and we know who is speaking.”
But it was still unclear why they had opted for the radical change of slicing the Tenderloin and SoMa out of District 6 when, in Saturday’s vote, every member of the task force except Townsend voted in favor of advancing with Map 4D.
Map 4B is widely seen to favor the city’s moderates over its progressives. Voters tend to lean progressive in the western side of District 5, and those areas are being split over several districts, potentially diluting the vote that elected Dean Preston. Moving Seacliff and Presidio Terrace into District 1 is likely to add moderate-skewing voters there as well, in a district where moderate candidate Marjan Philhour narrowly lost in the 2020 supervisor election.
A minority of comments praised the task force for using 4B. Many residents of District 3 were pleased with their new boundary along Van Ness, which includes Russian Hill in the district. Others praised the task force for discounting what one speaker called the “myopic agenda of progressive special interest groups,” whom they claimed organized resistance to Map 4B.
The changes made on Wednesday saw a small part of central SoMa put back into District 6. Otherwise, the changes on 4B were elsewhere.
A motion was advanced by Chema Hernández Gil suggested expanding District 5’s boundaries in the north to avoid splitting the Japantown cultural district.
The motion was defeated 5 to 4, with members Matthew Castillon, Raynell Cooper, Lily Ho, Chasel Lee, and Arnold Townsend voting against.
Potrero Hill in District 10
The first version of Map 4B saw the Dogpatch and Potrero Hill both moved into District 6. A motion from Hernández Gil suggested moving Potrero Hill back into District 10.
The motion passed 5-4, with Jeremy Lee, J. Michelle Pierce, Cooper, Hernández Gil, and Townsend in favor.
This move is likely to have cascading consequences for District 10. Chasel Lee was disappointed and frustrated that the addition of Potrero Hill would likely mean Portola being moved out of the district in a later meeting. He saw Portola being separated from District 10 as an error carried over previous redistricting processes that he had hoped to help rectify.
Yerba Buena in District 6
Castillion put forward a motion to keep the Yerba Buena community benefit district whole in District 6. This somewhat reduces the amount of central SoMa moving to District 5.
The motion passed 5-4, with Ditka Reiner, Castillion, Ho, Chasel Lee, and Townsend in favor.
Treasure Island to stay in District 6
Pierce suggested moving Treasure Island to District 3. The motion was rejected 6-3, with Reiner, Castillion, Cooper, Ho, Chasel Lee, and Townsend against.
Seacliff and Presidio Terrace in District 1
Seacliff and Presidio Terrace are currently in District 2, but Map 4B puts them in District 1. Hernández Gil put forward a motion to keep the neighborhoods in District 2.
The motion failed in a 6-3 vote, with Reiner, Castillion, Cooper, Ho, Chasel Lee, and Townsend against.
All these changes are still preliminary, and we can expect more edits up until the deadline for a finalized draft at 11 p.m. on Thursday, April 14. And if we have learned anything from the past week’s drama, it is to expect the unexpected in where these changes will come from.
The task force will be meeting every day up until Saturday, with its next meeting starting at 3 p.m. today.