SF Rising, our affiliate organizations, and the League of Women Voters of San Francisco sent a joint letter on November 8th, 2021 to the Redistricting Task Force to advocate for a mapping tool to be released so that San Franciscans can start mapping their communities. You can see the letter below:
November 8th, 2021
VIA EMAIL to email@example.com
San Francisco Redistricting Task Force
c/o Clerk of the Board’s Office
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, CA 94102
RE: Recommendations for mapping tool
Dear members of the Redistricting Task Force,
Thank you for your work so far to establish a process for how redistricting will unfold in San Francisco.
While there are fewer than six months until the deadline to submit the final map, we know every moment is an opportunity to engage our communities in this impactful process that will determine the futures of San Franciscans for the next 10 years.
That is why we write to you today in hopes that you will release a mapping tool within the next two weeks and immediately schedule trainings for community members to learn how to map their neighborhoods.
Release a User-friendly Mapping Tool
The mapping tool should be user-friendly, as redistricting can be an intimidating and uninviting process that many deem too complex and confusing to take part in. Releasing a mapping tool that everyday people can use will help to increase engagement and in turn, provide an opportunity for a map that represents all San Franciscans, not just those with backgrounds in technology and data with the means to advocate for themselves.
It will be equally important for the mapping consultant to hear feedback from community members using the mapping tool and improve it as the process moves forward. A regular agenda item for this input on task force meeting agenda could address improving the mapping tool.
The tool that you release for San Francisco’s redistricting process should be just as easy for community members to make communities of interest maps and district maps, and easily share these maps with others. We suggest a mapping tool similar to one that many neighboring counties have used, called DistrictR. Everything on DistrictR is clearly laid out, with easily visible buttons to take you to the type of map you want to create. When creating a map, they offer a paintbrush tool and multiple colors which correlate with the population balance bar graph that shows up as you click on different neighborhoods. It even tells you the ideal number of people and population deviation for each district. There are also clear options to save and export the map, which makes it easy to share with others.
Schedule Community Mapping Tool Trainings
It will be vital to conduct many training events for the public on how to use the mapping tool. We cannot release a mapping tool without adequate training for the public if we want as many voices to be a part of this process as possible. Our suggestion is to hold recurring trainings on multiple dates so that as many people can attend as possible, and of course, to have interpretation services available.
We also suggest that these training dates are discussed at the next task force meeting and finalized immediately after so that community organizations who represent marginalized communities can reach out to their members with ample time to recruit for this event, as the voices of our communities are so often left out of these processes.
We appreciate all the time and dedication you have put into this redistricting process so far, especially those considerations that have been made in regards to increasing access for all community members. We trust that you will continue to look for ways to uplift the voices of marginalized communities to ensure equity in this process. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Communications & Civic Engagement Organizer
SF Rising Alliance
League of Women Voters of San Francisco