Redrawing the map

Obscure task force charged with creating new supervisorial districts could have a big impact on the city's political landscape

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The latest draft map of proposed new supervisorial districts will be the subject of public hearings over the next couple months

tredmond@sfbg.com, steve@sfbg.com

The most important political change of 2012 may not be the appointment of a new District 5 supervisor or the inauguration of a new mayor and sheriff. A process moving slowly through a little-known city task force could wind up profoundly shifting the makeup, and balance of power, on the Board of Supervisors — and hardly anyone is paying attention, yet.

The Redistricting Task Force is in the process of drawing new lines for the supervisorial districts, as mandated every 10 years when new census data is available. The nine-member body is made up of three appointees each by the board, the mayor and the Elections Commission. While mandated to draw equal-sized districts that maintain "communities of interest," the board has almost unchecked authority to decide which voters are in which districts.

While it's difficult to draw 11 bad districts in San Francisco, it's entirely possible to shift the lines to make it more difficult to elect progressives — something many groups out there are anxious to do.

VIEW THE CURRENT WORKING DRAFT MAP HERE

 

CONSOLIDATING THE LEFT

Downtown and pro-landlord groups are circulating their own draft maps, attempting to influence the outcome. Their goal is hardly a secret: If progressive voters can be concentrated in a small number of districts — say, districts 5, 6, and 9 — it's more likely that a majority of the board will be moderates and conservatives.

The task force has looked at 10 "visualizations" prepared by a consultant, and each of them had some alarming aspects. For example, the visualizations mostly pushed such conservative areas as Seacliff and Presidio Heights into District 1, which is represented by progressive Sup. Eric Mar.

On Jan. 4, those drafts were replaced by a single working draft map, which is now on the task force's hard-to-find website (www.sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=2622) — and it's not as bad as the earlier versions. The working draft keeps Seacliff and Presidio Terrace in District 2 — which share similar demographics.

"The working families in the Richmond don't belong in the same community of interest as the millionaires with homes overlooking the ocean," Mar told us.

But there are other changes that some may find alarming. The more conservative Portola neighborhood, which is now in District 9, would be included in District 11, while D9 would pick up the more liberal north Mission. That would make D9 an even safer progressive district — but make D11 harder for a progressive like the incumbent, John Avalos, to win.

The task force has been holding hearings on each of the districts — but there's been little discussion about how the new lines will affect the makeup of the board, and the politics and policy of the city, as a whole.

 

POPULATION CHANGES

The driving force behind the changes in the districts is the rather dramatic population shift on the east side of the city. Most of the districts, census data show, have been relatively stable. But since 2000, 24,591 more people have moved into D6 — a nearly 30 percent increase — while 5,465 have moved into D10 (a 7.5 percent increase) and 5,414 into D11 (8.7 percent). D9 saw the biggest population decrease, losing 7,530 voters or 10.3 percent.

The huge growth in D6 has been the result of a boom in new high-end condos in the Rincon Hill and SoMa neighborhoods, and it's changed the demographics of that district and forced the city to rethink how all of the surrounding districts are drawn.

Comments

Portola is in District 10 FYI.

Posted by Scott on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:16 am
Posted by Jonathan Wright on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:50 am
Posted by Jonathan Wright on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:53 am

Gotcha thanks!

Posted by Scott on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

city-wide. so while you may seek to optimize the districts to suit your agenda (that's pretty much you premise, right?), you can only do so much when the city's population is becoming more affluent, less unionized, more owner-occupiers and more moderate.

The poor can't really afford to live in SF and, increasingly, choose to live in the East Bay. Rented buildings routinely get OMI'ed or Ellis'ed, to be replaced with 750K condo's whose owners are less likely to be pro-tenant.

High-tech and Bio-Tech bring in younger, educated, affluents from other parts of the country who don't have communist leanings. While the "starving artists" and "bearded, sandal-toting activists" often end up living in low-rent Oakland.

Jerrymandering aside, the districts should be equal-sized and have some coherent logic. The Mission doesn't have to be one district because it's huge and because hip Bryant St is very different from 24th St., which is different again from Valencia St.

But as saw in the 2010 and 2011 local elections, the city is moving to the right, slowly but surely. And even if you and Bruce were put in charge of the re-districting, that's not something you can fix.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:37 am

Unite the Mission in D9.

Progressives could win citywide if activists put the intersection of progressive interests and interests of the voters before their own immediate institutional interests.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:52 am

@Marcos. An admonition that should be beaten into 'them' at every opportunity, but when will they ever learn.
Another useful site for redistricting might be www.redrawsf.org , haven't had time to check it out yet.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 10:28 am

changes.

We were in District 7 - West of Twin Peaks even though we live on Twin Peaks. Now we're in District 8 but District 8 has been expanded to Oceanside Avenue and the Castro has been split - making it less LGBT-cohesive.

I'm fine with either Weiner or Elsbernd as a Supervisor but these districts appear to have been carved with mainly political considerations as a guide - not in keeping communities of interest together as the State redistricting commission used. Those districts are compact and cohesive - these are gerrymandered to suit one faction or another.

FAIL.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

Isn't that a little tribal of you?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

It's not tribal - it's actually illegal to divide minority communities so as to dilute their voting power - at least on a federal basis. You wouldn't split up Chinatown between three different districts - nor should the Castro be split up between three different supervisors.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

factions and groups, and started adopting a Lee-like city-wide perspective, that would be healthier and more effective.

The idea that we have to have a gay Supe, a black Supe and so on is divisive.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

it would seem to make sense to discuss which district is the best fit for which community. It's not divisive to suggest that districts with communities with a common interest be kept together to promote those interests. Drawing a district which runs from Presidio Heights to the Bayview would make absolutely no sense geographically or in uniting people with totally different outlooks and and thus - very different needs. This doesn't only apply to sexual orientation or race but also level of home ownership, income levels etc...

If you're making the argument for the abolition of district-based elections then fine - that's one thing. But to say that districts should just be randomly drawn to promote some vague idea of "unity" is ridiculous - there's a reason we have district-based elections - so certain communities, long shut out of the halls of political power, have their voices heard. As long as that's the standard then I'm going to argue for districts which preserve community power.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

narrow an electoral jurisdiction. Look at other metro areas's like NYC, LA, Chicago etc. One elected council for 5 to 10 million. No danger of narrow factions there.

If we had a Bay Area wide council, there would be none of this balkanisation.

Yet we constantly want to divide ourselves into every smaller groups just so we can have more and more control over less and less. Why?

Forget communities. The most important elections don't concenr themselves with micro-divisions. Does it really matter if each narrow faction doesn't have their own Rep? Why?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

I live in San Francisco - a unique city with very different priorities and interests than San Mateo or Redwood City. A Bay Area Council representing 10 million people would be absurd - I've never heard of anyone calling for the abolition of city-wide elections (and thus - cities, since boards and councils are the bodies which decide on city services and revenues) and replacing them with a new electoral body as a solution to "Balkanization" before.

And you're wrong about the NY City Council - they elect on the basis of districts too and if you think someone from Brooklyn doesn't think differently than someone from the Village, and thus vote differently, then you know nothing about New York City. You haven't seen "Balkanization" before you've seen a meeting of the NYC Council.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

Where do you stop with that? Government by zip code? By "neighborhood"? By block?

Fact is, the Bay Area has at least nine counties to administer the same population as many similar areas do with just one. What's the justification for that? It leads to extremism.

Ever wondered why the only public transit that works in the Bay Area is BART?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Contra Costa and Alameda counties - each of which borders on the Bay, suggests that you know absolutely nothing about this area.

Tell me again how Sonoma is similar to Contra Costa or San Francisco counties?

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

All governments represent a compromise between differences. That's true from the US Congress right down to District 5, that covers super-affluent Cole Valley and the ghetto of the Fillmore projects.

You have a problem with differences? And want endless balkanisation to fix it?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

Muni moves more people each day than BART.

What's wrong with extremism? Your position against participatory local democracy is extreme to me.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

where many people, including my wife, refuses to use it.

BART is fast, safe, clean and efficient.

Muni is a freaking nightmare.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

Except that Muni "successfully" moves more people every day that BART "successfully" moves and Muni does it for much less money per passenger mile, per revenue mile, per every metric than BART. Muni, by many measures, is more "successful" than BART.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

from critical punctuality issues. While BART is clean, safe, efficient and punctual. People who happily take BART wouldn't be seen dead on Muni.

Funny, huh?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

There are feces and bacteria on the cloth seats of BART, have been for years, and your wife sits on feces and bacteria. SUCCESS!

I prefer BART to Muni myself because it is faster, but Muni does more in two days than BART does in a week.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

Hey, I bet that you'd probably touched your wife's clothing where the clothing had touched BART's fecal and bacterial seats, and then touched your face, which means feces and bacteria from BART have entered your system, probably on several occasions.

Has that ever happened to you on Muni?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

a wife joke? Really.

Posted by marke on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

His wife fears poor people so much that she'd expose herself to fecal sepsis.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

You seem to forget that BART doesn't cover any of the Peninsula other than San Francisco or any of Silicon Valley down to San Jose.

So in essence - it doesn't cover more than 1/2 the population of the Bay Area.

But besides that small point I can see how that makes it a SUPERB example of governance in our region.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

runs far east to Pleasanton and Pittsburg. It benefits every BA county except for Marin, who were offered BART but declined it.

It's a perfect example of how well the Bay Area would run if it were a unitary body.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

No one on the Peninsula south of San Francisco votes on BART or is serviced by BART.

Sorry. Major FAIL. You need to quit commenting here.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

any childminded dweeb who uses the term 'Major FAIL' as if he is some pre-teen nerd punk in a junior high school age chat room, or some overly fixated ultra-geek playing World of Warcraft all day, is the one who needs to stop posting here

grow the hell up

Posted by anonymous on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

LOL> LMAO!

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

New York City has 51 Council members as well as 51 community boards that provide for sub government for purely municipal matters. There are 150K New Yorkers per City Council member @ 8m population. There is also county government for each borough that administers state and federal programs.

Chicago has 50 Aldermen and a population of 2.7m which adds up to 51K Chicagoans per Alderman.

San Francisco has 11 Supervisors and a population of 800K which ends up as 72K San Franciscans per Supervisor. Most cities also have County government and that knocks SF's representation down relative to others. From work I did a few years ago, San Francisco is on the high end of representational ratios with most other amalgamated city/county forms having about 20-25K residents per council member.

The diverse character of a 6 million person region spread across 150 miles north / south and 100 miles east west means that there will be a variety of competing interests. If you think that there will not be Balkanization then just check out the MTC and get back to me, okay?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

There could be huge economic savings if we merged the Bay Area Counties. And huge synergies and efficiencies as a result.

Worried about the deficits? Then do what the private sector does and merge, to get economies of scale. And of course more reasonableness and moderation.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

Remember when UCSF and Stanford Medical Centers tried to "leverage economies of scale" by merging in the mid 1990s? How long did that last, two years?

Los Angeles has a county with five supervisors. Can you speak to how well run LA county is with five supervisors?

Inside LA County, there are many municipalities, each with its own city council. LA City has 3m people and 15 council members. Can you speak to how well LA City is run?

Gimme a paragraph each on how LA's administration of county and municipal government is better than SF's administration of county and municipal government.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:20 am

And moreover, five supervisors for 3 million people is far more economical to run than 9 Supes for 700,000. We are over-governed in the Bay Area and that is very expensive. A Bay Area wide administration would be more moderate and better than wild divergances of politics. That's what drives so much business out of SF to neighboring cities and coutnies just a few miles away. We should be competing with other areas not each other.

And as I said, BART works just fine, while Muni and CalTrain struggle.

Beggar thy neighbor isn't a sound ideology. Local hire - hmppfftt.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:07 am

No, really, how are LA's county and municipal governments better than San Francisco's?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

Less extreme politics.

Less officials means it runs at a lower cost.

It must really upset you that we have State and National elections.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

Actually, there is a simpler URL: sfgov.org/rdtf

They also have a Facebook page. However, until I sent the Department of Elections an email last week, they did not have a link to the Redistricting Task Force from the front page of the DOE website.

There are upcoming meetings in each of the districts - a schedule is on the RDTF website.

Posted by Larry-bob Roberts on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

I have lived in Bernal Heights for the past 11 years, & very glad to see the part where I live will be in District 8. The supervisors of District 8 seem to have been very intuitive to the needs of all their constituents. Most parts of District 8 have greatly improved. There is rarely any crime. This cannot be said of District 9. Large sections of it are still very much blighted & crime infested At least when there was citywide elections, the supervisors had to work together as a whole to make good changes in SF.

Posted by Pamela on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

beggar-thy-neighbor policies that harm the city as a whole and specific areas significantly. The worse situation to be in is living in a nice area that gets subsumed into a problem district.

We should go back to city-wide elections. And ideally merge the nine Bay Area counties into a single, unitary authority.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

Why not merge CA into a single unitary district authority? Why not the entire west coast? Or better yet - a single unitary authority covering the United States and its territories?

Your rational argument has changed my mind. The idea of locally-based representation is a totally outdated one. It leads to Balkanization and NIMBYism - the best way to address this is through the abolition of any political boundary other than the federal and the election of representatives running nationwide. We could also introduce a unicameral legislature to deal with the issue of the abolition of states - maybe 75 representatives for the whole country would be a good idea. Of course a ballot with 75 offices and 3-5 candidates per each would be quite lengthy (300 people to vote for!) but I think that's a small price to pay for encouraging debalkanization in our country.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

and district SF elections have created fiefdoms so small that almost any idiot can get elected. That's why Lee romped home in November - voters crave an end to balkanisation and want a city-wide viewpoint.

We're done with the weirdo's that having tiny jurisdictions leads to.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

Lowest voter turnout in decades says voters are not craving much of anything.

I agree on electing looneys, though. Michela "Who will stand up for our kids?" Alioto-Pier, the one who voted against mayoral public financing yet took taxpayer dollars to eat a major shit sandwich tops the charts.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

Its tiring that every political argument in SF devolves into:
a mouse is a rat is a cat is a lion

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:32 am

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