Redistricting pressure off for now as redrawn maps allay San Francisco politicians' fears 

After initially causing alarm among some politicians and activists, the state redistricting commission is expected to vote today on the final draft of its maps — and most local politicos seem OK with the results.

Earlier drafts had created concerns in San Francisco about whether gays would lose their influence and politicians would lose their jobs.

But the final maps released this week by the commission — which is redrawing district lines for state and congressional districts — have allayed most of those fears.

Under the new district lines and numbers, San Francisco will still mostly be represented by Nancy Pelosi in Congress and state Sen. Mark Leno won’t be out of a job. The final maps also resolve concerns that had pitted The City’s gay and Asian communities against each other. Also, The City will officially remain odd.

But there will be some significant changes. Come 2014, San Francisco will only have one state senator, instead of two.

The consolidation, in combination with an arcane political numbering system, briefly appeared to threaten Leno’s job, and caused half of The City to not be represented for two years. But that crisis in San Francisco politics was averted when the commission dubbed San Francisco’s senate district as 11. If the commission had bestowed an even number on the district, Leno’s term would have run out in 2012 but he would not have been able to run for the new San Francisco seat until 2014.

Leno said he was happy with the process.

“I certainly would be more critical if San Francisco were not to have senate representation for two years,” he said. “I will be a candidate for that new senate district. You can make that official.”

San Francisco will maintain its two separate assembly districts. In earlier versions, the lines between the two had shifted in ways that for a while had San Francisco’s Asian alliances at odds with its LGBT alliances. The initial drawings had pulled several of San Francisco’s most gay-friendly neighborhoods into the more conservative western district, while adding neighborhoods that had higher percentages of Asians to the eastern district.

Ultimately, the two groups came up with a compromise.

Pelosi will also maintain her power in San Francisco, despite one draft that suggested splitting The City in half between two lawmakers in the House of Representatives.

The commission was convened by a voter mandate, in an attempt to avoid the famous gerrymandering that occurred when sitting politicians drew the lines.

Ultimately, the process was considerably more “deodorized” than prior redistricting processes, said UC Berkeley political science professor Bruce Cain. However, he noted the process was not free of politics, and felt there was a disingenuousness to “pretending to be above it all.”

“But we do believe, in a civilized society, that deodorant is better than no deodorant,” he said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com


Before and after


State Senate districts
Before: San Francisco was split into two districts, the eastern district spanning the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County, and the western district slinking down into San Mateo County.
Now: The City is represented by just one district, which also includes Daly City, South San Francisco and Colma.

Assembly districts
Before: San Francisco was split into east and west Assembly districts, with the eastern district including parts of Daly City, Colma and South San Francisco.
Now: The lines cut The City in slightly different halves. Now, the Presidio, Marina and Pacific Heights are in the western district, while neighborhoods south of Interstate 280 are in the eastern district.

Sources: California Redistricting Commission, CalVoter.org

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Katie Worth

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