Task Force Backs Off District 7 Land Grab
By Thomas K. Pendergast
A proposal to slice a significant chunk from District 7 and stitch it onto District 4 died in March, although one member of San Francisco's Redistricting Task Force thinks the idea might make like a zombie and rise again sometime before April 15, when the task force is expected to submit its final plan.
On March 12, a proposed map of new district lines being considered by the task force put the Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor neighborhoods of District 7 into District 4.
During a meeting at the West Portal Elementary School, a who's who of past presidents from the West of Twin Peaks Central Council and other neighborhood organizations showed up to oppose the plan.
"They've been part of District Seven for a long time, in fact, really since the neighborhoods were built, they have been part of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, which is an organization of 20 neighborhoods," said Matt Chamberlain, the current president of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. "Most of the neighborhoods, from the top of Twin Peaks down towards the west, were built as planned developments. Many of them have little pillars in the front where they'll have the name of the neighborhood on them.
"We have so much in common with those two neighborhoods, the other 18 that make up West of Twin Peaks Central Council, I would strongly urge you to consider keeping those together with the rest of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council organization."
Nancy Crowley, a resident of Lakeshore Acres, also opposed moving her neighborhood over to District 4.
"The idea of moving us into (District) Four, it disenfranchises us with our district representation," said Crowley. "I would encourage you to retain Lakeshore Acres in District Seven. We are directly impacted by Lake Merced. We've worked on Lake Merced issues for years and years and years, with our neighbors in that area, and Park Merced, Stonestown and San Francisco State. I think it reflects a lack of understanding of our neighborhood and our district to just lump us in District Four."
The advent of district elections more than a decade ago carved the City up into 11 supervisorial districts, each having about the same number of residents.
San Francisco's total population rose 3.7 percent throughout the last decade, from 776,733 to 805,235. The South of Market area got most of the new residents; however, all districts must by law be within one percent of their mean average, plus or minus, although this can be expanded up to five percent in order to preserve certain neighborhoods.
District 4, which covers the Sunset District and is represented by Supervisor Carmen Chu, gained 914 people during the last decade, going from 70,672 in 2000 to 71,586 in 2010, an increase of 1.29 percent. The mean average of all districts is 73,203, so ideally the populations for each district will be plus or minus 1 percent of this number.
Barbara Chiosini, of the Lakeshore Acres Improvement Club, brought up the local university.
"One of the concerns I have with taking us and putting us in District Four is San Francisco State University," said Chiosini. "We have a lot of problems out in our area with their students and by keeping us in District Seven it really helps us with the administration at San Francisco State University."
On March 22, at the United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco, an aide to District 4 supervisor Carmen Chu told the task force that the supervisor prefers keeping Sloat Boulevard as the border between the two districts.
"With Sloat Boulevard being a state road, it's a good line of demarcation," said Cammy Blackstone, an aide to Chu. "The supervisor would really like to see that that continues to be the south border."
It did not go unnoticed at the meeting that the map displaying the proposed merger of Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor with District 4 had been removed from immediate consideration by the task force.
"I just want to thank you all for listening to our comments in the last several meetings about how important it is for Lakeshore and the Merced Manor group to be retained in District Seven," said Crowley. "We're very pleased that your current map reflects this and we hope that going forward it will continue to reflect this."
Task force member David Pilpel admitted that the proposal was no longer on the table for debate, although with the caveat that it could come up again before they are done.
"I wouldn't conclude anything right now. It's still a draft working map," said Pilpel. "(Task force members) were apparently persuaded by the testimony from District Seven residents, including those in the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, to keep those neighborhood organizations in District Seven."