Fil-Ams wary of San Francisco redistricting
SAN FRANCISCO—Despite the overwhelming support from the Filipino community in the area, groups comprised of individuals to be impacted by the ongoing redistricting of San Francisco’s District 11 are uneasy about the final outcome of the process.
Executive director of the Filipino American Development Foundation and Bayanihan Community Center, Bernadette Sy, sees the redistricting of District 11 more contentious because “it is where the Filipinos are more scattered.”
“In District 11, the Filipino population is over 10,000. That is a huge voting bloc, which we don’t want to lose. It is important to try to keep the Filipino community in that district, because that’s where you have the largest Filipino population in the city,” Sy rued.
Asked what her group has done so far to address this concern, Sy said they have mapped out the Filipino population centers, highlighting the district with the biggest concentration of Filipinos, and turned it in to the Task Force on Redistricting.
Short of giving up, as she admitted “we stand to lose some in District 11 because we are dispersed,” she nevertheless conceded there are still a lot in the little areas, like the small area in Ocean View/Merced Heights/Ingleside (OMI), where there are 2,000 Filipinos that may be moved.
Executive director Allan Manalo of Bindletiff Studio, a Filipino-American Arts Theater located on 6th and Howard Streets, is also bothered by the impending division, but nevertheless remains hopeful.
“Although we are more challenged by the more dispersed Filipino population in the city’s District 11, I am, however, encouraged that Supervisor John Avalos (of District 11) expressed his support for our cause of preserving the Filipino community. On top of this, the president of the Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, has been speaking in support of the Filipino community,” Manalo said.
For his part, San Francisco Entertainment Commissioner Al Perez, who is also the president of the Filipino American Arts Exposition Pistahan Parade and Festival also agreed that District 11 is contentious but mainly because the district has to give up 6,000 of its residents, Filipino and non-Filipino alike.
“There are three communities of interest in the district — the Filipino community, the OMI (consisting mostly of Caucasians) and the Portola — that are serious in keeping their community intact. So these are the three forces that are in the middle of it,” Perez explained.
With the Filipino and the OMI communities actively campaigning to keep their strengths, Perez said that the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force’s tough job now is to find a compromise or a way to satisfy both neighborhoods without upsetting anybody.
“There is a preliminary map that was drawn and published by the task force in their website and this current map as posted in their website is beneficial to our community. But since it is still a work in progress, I am sure the people from the other side would campaign and lobby. That is why we still need to be vigilant, have more people to show up and be part of the process because if we are not there, they can make a decision that could in a way impact us negatively,” Perez exhorted.
Perez also said this is the reason the Filipino-American groups are attending regular meetings and public hearings in the districts other than 6 and 11 because “when they redraw the map during hearings, the ripple effect is that everybody else around it, including the districts we are protecting, will be affected.”
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