First, what the hell is redistricting and why does anyone bother doing it? It’s actually quite important in this city, as least so much so that a San Francisco Redistricting Task Force has been charged with the duty, which happens every ten years. Specifically, the task force meets and reviews the most current census data in order to redraw Supervisorial Districts based on changing populations. But here, “populations” does not refer to numbers alone, at least not in any simple form. Let’s look at this document, composed by the City Attorney’s office, for a better understanding of the complexity involved (Quagmire alert!)
"First, the Constitution and the Charter require the Task Force to draw districts that are equal in population." Okay, easy. But wait: "Second, the Federal Voting Rights Act prohibits the Task Force to draw district lines that dilute the voting power of racial and language minorities."But:"Although the Task Force may take race into account for the purposes of complying with the VRA, the Constitution prohibits the Task Force from considering race as a predominant factor when redrawing district lines, absent compelling governmental interests and a narrowly tailored means of serving those interests." And don’t forget:"Finally, the Charter requires the Task Force to consider communities of interest and use adjusted census figures when drawing district lines."
Remind us not to get appointed to the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force!
With these perplexing goals in mind, the committee has proposed changes to city districts that would have suprising side-effects. For instance, The Examiner reported some of the proposed changes would leave more than one Supervisor living outside of his or her current district. Another example is a change to Distirct 6 (SoMa) so that it will now lose much of Rincon Hill in order to make up for lost population in other neighborhoods. The issue then, if you’re the Supervisor of District 6 (and lucky enough to still be living within it after redistricting) is how to do your job. After all, the needs of the Mission are different than those of Mission Bay. The Tenderloin requires different attention than the coming Transbay Terminal area. Who can possibly serve such diverse needs?
And finally, we have real estate prices. If a home, formerly in a “desirable” district, suddenly gets redrawn into a stigmatized district, does it lose value? Local Realtor Alex Clark says: "It can. Mostly as it would effect online search. If a buyer only wants Pacific Heights, but just across the street in Lower Pacific heights is the perfect home, it might get overlooked." In less complicated language, "Oh hell yes," says local Realtor Luba Muzichenko.
A final map for redistricting is due by April 15. If you’ve got 2 cents to spend on this issue, send them to the Task Force directly:
·Redistricting could uproot San Francisco supervisors[SF Examiner]
·A Neighborhood Meeting to Discuss the Potential Redistricting of SOMA [LiveSoMa]
[Map via SFist]