Every 10 years, our City’s charter requires that we draw new district lines based on the decennial census to ensure our population per district is as evenly distributed as possible. San Francisco had at-large supervisor races until 1976 when district elections led to the election of Harvey Milk. District elections were repealed in 1980, then reinstated in 1996, taking effect in 2000.
District elections have led to a more diverse Board of Supervisors, with recent years seeing more women, Chinese, Black, Latinx and LGBTQ candidates elected to office. Our diverse neighborhoods and constituents are what makes San Francisco such a unique and incredible city to live in. We have a wealth of multicultural districts and neighborhood identities, which has built community solidarity. Our neighborhoods are woven together and connected by cultural heritage, transportation, language, access to resources, gender identity and much more.
In the current redistricting process, we have seen a concerning number of community voices go unheard. Neighborhoods and communities that need more resources – housing, grocery stores, access to services – are threatened with having their voting power being diluted, or being separated from communities they have built ties to. During this process, we are seeing special interests attempting to grab power from our communities.
Redistricting also impacts transit and housing equity. Many community members have noted that the proposed maps not only dilute voting power of Black, Latino and Asian voters, but the map spreads wealthier communities across several different districts to potentially allow for more money to influence our elections. This means that the corporate developers and venture capitalists, who have been trying to gain control of our city, will be able to evict the working class and use San Francisco as a playground for the rich.
Displacement and disenfranchisement of communities of color are nothing new to San Francisco. After the 1906 earthquake, many immigrant communities moved to the west side to settle new neighborhoods. In response, racial covenants and gated communities were created to keep immigrants out. Redlining was created in the 1930s to legally segregate the nation’s housing stock. In 1942, the west coast saw the forced removal and relocation of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans. In the 1970s, when African Americans moved into their homes in the Fillmore and Western Addition, the City’s redevelopment agency bulldozed the neighborhood and displaced the community. To this day, we continue to see home loan approval rates favor white applicants over Black and Latino applicants.
The goal of these corporations is to make money – they want to build more market-rate housing instead of any affordable housing, disrupt our transit systems, and buy and flip our homes. The Richmond District is home to many first-time or intergenerational homeowners, and the real estate speculators want to change that. They want to evict our working-class families who have been here for generations, our immigrant families, and our renters living paycheck-to-paycheck.
As your supervisor, I will continue to fight for affordable housing, expand tenant protections, and improve our public transportation services. San Francisco must remain a home to working-class immigrants, families and renters.
But I also need your help, I ask that you get out and vote this June and again in November. There are many measures on the ballots that will determine our future in San Francisco and our fight against special interests’ land and power grab. Your vote is your voice, please vote.
This article was published in the Richmond Review in May 2022.