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Board of Supervisors unanimously endorse renaming Justin Herman Plaza

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Resolution now has 11 co-sponsors

The fountain at Justin Herman Plaza. Photo by Bill

A San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution “urging the Recreation and Parks Commission to remove the name of Justin Herman from the plaza located at the intersection of the Embarcadero and Market Street” seems destined for easy passage.

After all, the version set to come to the board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee on Monday now has 11 sponsors, leaving no one on the entire city legislature to oppose it, nor even to stake out neutral ground on the subject.

According to the resolution, the supervisors take exception to the plaza honoring the late head of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency because:

[Herman oversaw] redevelopment of the Western Addition, that displaced approximately 4,000 residents, small businesses, and bulldozed 60 square blocks of the City.

[...] In 1970, Herman said “This land is too valuable to permit poor people to park on it" to give credibility to this "urban renewal" project that sought to buy up buildings 6 and evict people who were poor, old, black and brown.

According to historian Chester Hartman’s book City for Sale, Herman’s comments about the poor came up in reference to Yerba Buena Center rather than the Western Addition. But they’re just as cringe-inducing for his legacy either way.

Ultimately the supervisors can’t do much more than try to impress upon Recreation and Parks their desire to change the name. It remains up to R&P’s discretion whether or not to move forward with any potential rechristening.

Still, the unanimity of the entire lawmaking body aligning behind the drive to change the name at least puts a little extra oomph behind the agitation.

The lawmakers have still not advanced any potential candidate for a new name, at least not on the record, suggesting that the public space simply bear the name “Embarcadero Plaza” until a suitable substitute comes up.

The Land Use Committee will consider the resolution today and if passed (which presumably it has to be) it will move on to the full board.