Community Leaders React To Draft Redistricting Map

District Seven and District 11 community leaders have a mixed reaction to the first draft of the proposed supervisorial district map.

Segment of the March 2022 Redistricting Task Force map
The first draft map released by the Redistricting Task Force has drawn ire from every part of the city.
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The first draft of the proposed supervisorial district map is being criticized by community leaders and public officials across the city, and District Seven and District 11 leaders are sounding off just the same.

The draft map released on Thursday was drawn by Q2 Consultants, a company advising the Redistricting Task Force, a group of nine appointees charged with overseeing the once-a-decade redistricting process. The draft map pushes District 11’s border south from Holloway Avenue down to Interstate 280, placing the Ocean View-Merced-Ingleside entirely in District Seven and adding Visitacion Valley to District 11. It also keeps Ocean Avenue inside of District Seven, a choice that has drawn a mixed response from residents.

District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai said that his main concern with the map is that it cuts out the OMI, which is home to Black and Filipino communities, and has outraged residents who identify with other working class and middle class neighborhoods east of the OMI.

“I got a call from about 15 to 20 community leaders yesterday, and they were apoplectic,” Safai told The Ingleside Light. “They don’t want their voice weakened and diluted. They want to be with the working middle class families in District 11, Excelsior, Outer Mission, Mission Terrace.”

Geoffrea Morris, a legislative aide for Safai from November 2020 to February 2022, said that placing the OMI inside of District Seven would diminish the voices of Black voters. Morris said that this due in part to the OMI’s history of lower voter turnout, which, combined with being in the same district as wealthier and whiter neighborhoods, could incentivize future supervisorial candidates to focus on other neighborhoods than the OMI when campaigning, diminishing their voice at City Hall.

“If you look at D7, and their voter turnout rate, you could literally just win by excluding the OMI if put in that area because our voter turnout rate is comparable to make it viable for a candidate,” Morris said.

Morris also said that placing the OMI in District Seven would restrict city resources that residents inside the OMI, specifically those living in zip code 94112, depend on.

“You’re going to get more if you’re placed with Excelsior than if you’re paired with Saint Francis Wood,” Morris said. “When you’re talking about extra money for workforce development, extra money for food insecurity and programming, they are going to go the district with the higher number, and severing the OMI from the Excelsior will dilute resources because the number won’t be there when you’re doing an equity distribution of resources.”

A video produced by the Oceanview-Merced-Ingleside Community Collaborative said that in zip code 94112, which is encompassed by District 11, 30,000 residents get public benefits and 70% of disability and aging services is provided to residents of that zip code.

OMI Neighbors in Action president Mary Harris said that being moved out of District 11 would be a major setback for the community, saying that Safai has been accessible and that OMI residents are grateful for positive steps taken during his tenure such as the opening of the OMI Job Center. Harris added that placing the OMI in the same district as higher-income neighborhoods would dilute the voice of a historically marginalized community.

“To mix us with Seven — St. Francis Woods, the private schools — we’re not going to vote the same, we’re not going to want the same supervisor,” Harris said.

District Seven Supervisor Myrna Melgar, whose district currently includes the Ingleside, said that she was not happy with the map as drawn because it carves out significant chunks near Miraloma Park and Midtown Terrace. Melgar said she has invested time in getting to know and advocating for those communities, and that moving them to another district could impact them negatively.

“The areas that are lost are pretty significant,” Melgar said. “Those are cohesive communicates that have a life of their own. I’ve been working with those folks and understanding their needs. Not that other supervisors cannot, but there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve.”

Melgar added that she prefers that the district’s current borders be kept as intact as possible because in addition to understanding the communities near Miraloma Park and Midtown Terrace, she has spent time learning the needs of communities in the Ingleside and Merced Extension Triangle.

“I want to keep those boundaries the way they are now, Melgar said. "I think it’s important for District Seven to have that diversity. [...] I think it’s healthy and I want to keep it that way.”

Melgar added that keeping current boundaries should be possible because District Seven’s population has shrunk slightly, meaning that the district will have to grow.

Mixed Response

Not all feedback has been negative.

Pierre Smit, executive director of the Ocean Avenue Association, a nonprofit organization which manages the city-authorized Ocean Avenue Community Benefit District, likes the draft map because it places Ocean Avenue inside the boundaries of only one supervisorial district, instead of bisecting it between Districts Seven and 11 as others have called for.

“It’s beautiful,” Smit said.

Smit said that having two supervisors will make improvement of the district more difficult due to the potential for disagreement between supervisors should the corridor have dual representation.

The district's expansion plans include the Balboa Park BART station, which will likely remain in District 11 given that Interstate 280 is longstanding boundary.

Segment of the March 2022 Redistricting Task Force map
The Ocean Avenue Community Benefit District shown in red in the March 2022 Redistricting Task Force draft map.

John Avalos, the former two-term supervisor for District 11, pushed back against Smit’s assertion that the corridor is better off with only one supervisor, saying that Smit is not accounting for those living in the OMI who patronize businesses on Ocean Avenue and that therefore Ocean Avenue should be shared between the districts.

“That struck me as kind of a strange comment, because there are people who live in the OMI who rely on Ocean Avenue and a person saying, ‘Well, I don’t feel like I represent these people,’ is, you know, well it's not exactly saying that, but it could be interpreted that way," Avalos said. "That is not unifying.”

Several community members, as well as a community map by SF Rising, of which Avalos is a part, places District 11’s northern border along with southern half of Ocean Avenue, bisecting the corridor between Districts Seven and 11.

Proponents say that this will ensure more attention and resources from City Hall are focused on Ocean Avenue and the businesses there by having two supervisors representing the strip.

Rising SF's redistricting map
SF Rising's proposed redistricting map. Courtesy of Rising SF 

Making of the Map

Lily Ho, a member of the RTF, said that Q2 Consultants was issued a list of conditions by the RTF to abide by as they drew the map, including keeping the population within 1% of the target district population of 79,545, keeping districts as they are drawn as intact as possible, and using existing maps of communities of interest, community benefit districts, cultural districts and neighborhood maps from the Planning Department as guidance for shaping the borders.

With the conditions laid out, Q2 Consultants was then given the green light to produce a first draft.

The RTF did not directly instruct them where to place boundaries before the draft was completed, according to Ho.

Ho stressed that this map is a draft, and that there will be a second round of public comment for all of the districts.

Ho said there is still ample wiggle room to create a map that will make communities happy after accounting for feedback from the public.

“The thing is, there are so many things wrong with this map,” Ho said. “This process doesn’t work without the community weighing in, so it is very important that we hear from the community at the second District 11 meeting.”

Safai also said he was aware that this map is only a draft, and that the public will be able to ask the RTF to reshape the proposed boundaries before anything is finalized.

“I’m also aware that this is a first draft,” Safai said. “There’s going be many drafts, and I think this is going to galvanize my community to speak with one voice on what they want, and they’re going to speak loud and clear.”

The next redistricting task force meeting for District 11 will be held March 21 at 5:30 p.m. A new map will be finalized by April 15.

Update: This article was updated on March 17 with more comment from neighborhood leaders.

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