The Redistricting Task Force. Screenshot taken Saturday 2 April.

In the early hours of this morning, the redistricting task force once again reversed course by voting in favor of Map 4B, which puts the Tenderloin and central SoMa in District 5. 

The 6 to 3 vote came only days after the task force approved Map 4D nearly unanimously. That map kept the Tenderloin in District 6 and was an overwhelming favorite of those who spoke during the seven-hour public comment period on Saturday.

Map 4B slices the Tenderloin and central SoMa out of District 6 and puts both in District 5, a dramatic change that means District 6 is left with few low-income census blocks. In the new map, District 5 loses Haight-Ashbury and Cole Valley.

“Map 4B advantages wealthier communities over working-class communities,” said John Avalos, former supervisor for District 11. He added that he was unsure why the reversal was made, but said, “I think it is worth considering whether some of these members of the task force have marching orders.”

Map 4D, which kept the Tenderloin in District 6, was preliminarily approved last Saturday in an 8 to 1 vote. That meant Map 4D would be used as the basis for future tweaks as the task force’s April 15 deadline approaches.

But in last night’s meeting, which began at 5:30 p.m. Monday and continued until 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, the task force was unable to agree on changes and instead voted to proceed with Map 4B.

Data from the Redistricting Task Force. Please note: The proposed boundaries are not fixed and will be updated in the coming weeks. You can access a full-screen version of the map here.

“We are going against all the impassioned testimony we heard on Saturday, only days ago,” said task force member Jeremy Lee, who voted against the reversal. “We are doing this in the dead of night, when we cannot be held fully accountable by the public.”

The votes in favor of using Map 4B were from chair Arnold Townsend, vice-chair Ditka Reiner, Raynell Cooper, Chasel Lee, Matthew Castillon and Lily Ho. These members were all appointed either by Mayor London Breed or the Elections Commission.

The three dissenting votes came from Chema Hernández Gil, Jeremy Lee, and J. Michelle Pierce. These members of the task force were all appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

The main change made to Map 4D during “live line drawing,” the task force’s process of trying out new boundaries by drawing them in real time, was moving Russian Hill into District 2. Public comment had previously asked for Russian Hill to be kept in District 3, or to be kept whole as a neighborhood if that were not possible. But when these changes came to a vote, task force members rejected them in a 5 to 4 split, with Townsend, Reiner, Chasel Lee, Castillon, and Ho against the changes.

Instead of going back to live line drawing, the task force then voted to return to Map 4B.

Cooper, who voted in favor of the changes to Map 4D, said he was “surprised” by his fellow members’ reluctance to move Russian Hill into District 2.

“I don’t think they realized how consequential the vote on Russian Hill would be,” he said. He said that by keeping Russian Hill in District 3, there would be impacts to other areas of the map, especially in the center of the city, none of which “seemed any more comfortable.”

It is unclear why this stand was made by a majority of the task force on the issue of Russian Hill in particular. Cooper later voted in favor of returning to Map 4B, saying that he was worried about the impact of the Russian Hill vote on other neighborhoods if they stuck with Map 4D.

“From listening to the live mapping session around 2 a.m., it appeared that several task force members were frustrated with the shape of District 6,” said Matthias Mormino, director of policy for the Chinatown Community Development Center, in an SF Rising press release.

“After moving on to District 3 and hitting an impasse around Russian Hill,” said Mormino, “the decision to pull Map 4B out of the dust bin was done out of desperation, or perhaps delirium.”

Alison Goh, president of the League of Women Voters of San Francisco, criticized the task force for a lack of transparency and for discounting marginalized voices.

“The task force is avoiding the tough choices at the expense of disadvantaged communities,” said Goh. “If you’re making these major decisions about what happens to the city for the next ten years in the early hours of the morning, that is a problem.”

“We were really happy with Map 4D,” said Raquel Redondiez, director of SOMA Pilipinas. “We thought, ‘Finally, the task force is listening to the public.'”

“Astonishingly, they went back to Map 4B. It seemed as though it was to favor the voices of the more affluent communities, like Russian Hill and Mission Bay.”

Map 4B was the second most popular choice among the public last Saturday, although it was behind the popularity of Map 4D. Member Pierce tallied unambiguous support for each map during that meeting, and found that 117 members of the public spoke in favor of 4D, while 32 spoke in favor of 4B. Maps 4A and 4C collected only a handful of supporters.

According to witnesses at the meeting last night, there were no public comments asking for the Tenderloin to be moved to District 5, and many actually thanked the task force for their previous decision to move ahead with Map 4D.

“I know we are going to get a lot of upset feedback on Wednesday,” said Cooper.

The task force’s next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6.

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DATA REPORTER. Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

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  1. Lol, the concerns of 117 loud people were supposed to change the position of an independent commission for a city of 800k+? Yeah right

    Give the 117 the consideration they deserve — very little

  2. Most likely, we need more progressives to volunteer on those committees where the meet for hours and hardly get anything done until they suddenly pass what they had intended all along in the early hours of the morning when no one is watching. Tough to have people with enough free time and energy to do all that when you need to have a good paying job to live in the city to participate. Most likely, people won’t sacrifice their free time and energy until the situation becomes serious enough. The only ones feeling that desperate in SF are the moderate (secret republicans) who can’t vote for any republican candidates so are backing the corporate money democratic politicians.

  3. The conservative Democrats, emboldened and pushed by alt right tech money, is making a play for a political end game to lock up their corrupt system against threats from below and to the left.

    1. Yes, exactly, MarcoS. How best to stop them? Good ol’ G. Mander is one tough opponent, lurking in the shadows. -bc

  4. The more people who are upset over this map the harder it is going to be to gain their trust, and that could backfire on the powers that be. Forcing change is getting old. It is time to vote for some new leaders who listen to the voters instead of telling us what to do.

    1. How do you suggest we elect leaders who care if our districts have been gerrymandered by conservatives to raise the bar to electing candidates who care?

  5. The public was locked out of City Hall last evening and could not attend the Redistricting Task Force hearing. Why?

  6. The U turn after the U turn, especially after hours upon hours of public comment where a clear majority favored Map 4D with tweaks is frankly shocking. Even more sinister: a neighbor attempted to join the Task Force meeting @ 8:30 PM last evening, but City Hall was locked up tight. Neighbor attempted to access Polk Street side AND the Dept. of Elections / freight loading access point on Grove Street but City Hall was locked up tight with no access for the public while the TF meeting was ongoing. Can you say lawsuit? I can. Here is a clear violation of the Brown Act. This is underhanded and sinister.