Rename SF Airport for Harvey Milk? 3 City Supervisors Not So Sure
San Francisco’s three freshmen supervisors remain hesitant to publicly back renaming the city’s airport after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk.
Supervisors London Breed (District 5) and Norman Yee (D7), elected to office last November, and Katy Tang , appointed to the District 4 seat in February, are among the six supervisors not listed as co-sponsors of the proposed charter amendment introduced earlier this year by gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos.
In separate editorial board meetings last week with the Bay Area Reporter, the trio all expressed a desire for more information about the proposal before they could agree to support it.
"I am more interested in the finances of it and what the process is in terms of how this works," said Breed.
She expressed concerns about how the city had made past naming decisions, such as the plaza along the Embarcadero named for Justin Herman, the city official responsible for redeveloping the predominantly African American Western Addition in the 1960s. For Breed, who grew up in the neighborhood, that honor "should never have happened."
In terms of the Milk SFO idea, Breed said she wants to see that there is a "fair, comprehensive process" to evaluate it.
"What I am trying to do as a supervisor - I represent over 70,000 people - I have an obligation to be responsible and not allow how I personally feel impact my decisions, especially when they impact the city financially," she said.
Tang formerly worked as an aide to her predecessor, Carmen Chu, and was tapped by Mayor Ed Lee to become supervisor after he named Chu the city’s new assessor-recorder. She plans to run in November to serve out the remaining two years of the term.
Thus, Tang could find herself competing for attention from the press and the public if her race coincides with a ballot fight over the Milk SFO proposal. She represents the Outer Sunset and Ocean Beach, neighborhoods not known to have many LGBT residents, so it is unclear if the issue would have much impact on the supervisorial contest.
Tang echoed Breed in stressing that her current lack of support for the proposal should not be read as having to do with Milk, the city’s first openly gay elected official who was gunned down at City Hall in 1978 along with then-Mayor George Moscone by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.
"No one has anything against Milk, that is not it," said Tang.
Breed and Tang both suggested the matter should be delayed until after a committee created by the city’s airport commission tasked with reviewing naming procedures for San Francisco International Airport and its facilities completes its work. The recently formed panel is set to hold its first public hearing on the matter May 13, though details on the time and location have yet to be announced.
"Because so many different people want different things, we need guidelines or parameters on who do you honor with the airport," said Tang.
Yee said he declined Campos’s request that he sign on as a co-sponsor, thus providing the necessary sixth vote to ensure its adoption by the board, because he felt there needed to be a public process first.
"I wanted to let people weigh in on why do you support it or not support it," he said.
Yee added that he is not behind why the rules committee, which he chairs, has yet to hold a hearing on the proposal. One had been set for early April but Campos requested a postponement and a new date has yet to be announced.