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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Redistricting winds down with a fight

March 22 Draft Map
The Portola was once again front and center last night at one of the final meetings the task force will hold before its April 15 deadline.  The agenda for the meeting reminded people that the task force intended to "substantially complete mapping during its meetings on April 4th and 5th."  As such, this was the one of the very last opportunities to discuss any major changes.

SFGate and SF Examiner previewed the meeting.

You may recall that at last week's meeting, a video was presented showing some Portola residents backing staying in D10, with another 6 or so present in person to support the move.  About eleven people also showed up supporting a unification inside D9. 

Supervisor Cohen was also there last week, supporting the move to D10.  Although she claims to have been following the process closely since the beginning, it was clear that she either didn't have a full understanding of what was going on, or was there to subvert the process at the behest of the Realtors Association lobbyists who'd come to speak with her on this topic back in February.  Personally, I don't think she's uninformed on the subject.  I think she made a political calculation that backfired on her.  She followed advice from her political consultants who'd arranged contact between her and the Realtor's Association CEO James Fabris on Feb 9 (the same consultants who'd arranged for the pro-D10, Realtors' Association favorable video to be produced) and tried to craft a nuanced response that would satisfy all sides.  Unfortunately for her, many people have been following this topic much more closely than she has, and know that advocacy for Portola in D10 AUTOMATICALLY means support for Potrero Hill in D6.  There were no other options on the table, and so if she truly didn't know this, then she had been grossly misinformed.  I know, however, that she had been well informed on this ahead of time, and yet went ahead anyway with her politically-driven failed attempt at having it both ways.

The sad thing for Supervisor Cohen is that she's now stuck without the Potrero Hill Democratic Club's endorsement of her SFDCCC run.  She now has the distraction of having to mend the wounds that she herself created within the Potrero Hill community that feels that she left them out to dry.  And assuming the map doesn't get altered at the last minute, she has to try to win in 2014 without the help of the voters in the Portola, who will likely find themselves in D9, voting for or against Supervisor Campos this fall.

With the current draft map, the Portola will, for the first time in ten years, be a whole community again. This is really all that the task Force has heard until now because this is truly the overarching desire of the Portola.

As part of D9, the Portola will not be thrown under any buses, as some people have asserted. Instead, it will be given a full seat on the bus and be allowed to speak up for itself in a way that it hasn't been able to for ten years, becoming a vital and strong part of a vibrant District 9.

With the current draft map, Potrero Hill remains part of the eastern neighborhoods to which its long history and its future are so inherently tied. Keeping Potrero Hill in D10 honors its working class history and the continued connection many of us experience daily, whether on foot, bike, or the T train. It also retains in one district the seemingly ever-shrinking African American community that lives throughout, and keeps their voice in shaping their own destiny as strong is it possibly can be.

Some people like to use the Potrero View newspaper's tag line as being indicative of the mindset of Potrero Hill towards the Southeast sector of the city. The tag line goes, "Serving the Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Mission Bay, & SOMA neighborhoods since 1970". What they forget to mention is that the paper's section known as "Southside" now comprises about half of the paper's space, and covers an area that follows the Third St corridor all the way to Visitacion Valley. What it doesn't include is the Portola. I suppose that since the Portola isn't in a part of the city that the View covers, they wouldn't readily know this.

To stick with the current draft map, roughly 3200 Portola voters move to D9.  To move Portola into D10, 5100 Portola voters and 9400 Potrero Hill voters move districts.  Those D9 Portola voters haven't voted for supervisor since 2008, and wouldn't get to again until 2014 if moved to D10.  The Potrero Hill voters moved to D6 would not get elected representation for the next two years.  Moving Portola to D10 would end up unnecessarily disenfranchising 14,500 voters, while putting the smaller southern chunk of Portola into D9 allows them to vote for supervisor this fall.

After public comment last evening, the Task Force decided NOT to reopen the boundary discussion insofar as the Portola was concerned.  And so it would seem the Portola will be reunited in D9.  My hope is that the last precinct of the Portola between Mansell and Dwight gets to join them.

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