Milk SFO terminal to debut in 2020
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The Harvey Milk Terminal at San Francisco International Airport will formally debut in 2020. That is when airport officials expect the signage denoting the new name for Terminal 1 will be installed.
This fall the city's arts commission is expected to approve the designs of the various signs needed for the terminal renaming. The proposed signage will then be submitted to City Hall for final approval in December.
"We look forward to the rollout of this very successful artwork at the SFO terminal," said Jeff Littlefield, the airport's chief operating officer.
Terminal 1 is undergoing a $2.4 billion remodel that will be unveiled in stages through 2024. The section most likely to include the dedication for Milk will open in early 2020, SFO spokesman Doug Yakel told the Bay Area Reporter this week.
"We're working on the design of some temporary construction walls, which will likely also include Milk references. No firm dates on this, but this would precede the completed facility," stated Yakel.
Five years ago city leaders agreed to name one of SFO's four terminals after Milk, a gay icon who 40 years ago became the first out LGBT person to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After an advisory panel last year selected Terminal 1, the Board of Supervisors approved the decision this month.
Mayor Mark Farrell signed the legislation to rename the terminal Monday morning (April 16) at a ceremony on the mayor's balcony inside City Hall.
"We are ensuring his name will last forever and be synonymous with the city of San Francisco," said Farrell.
Milk's gay nephew, Stuart Milk, attended the ceremony on behalf of the Harvey Milk Foundation that he established to promote LGBT rights around the globe. He noted that his uncle was "looking over us by that bust over there," referring to the Milk bust placed across the rotunda near the doors to the board chambers.
"This is a very important message to the world," said Stuart Milk, adding that having people "transit through the Harvey Milk Terminal sends the message that this community not only honors those who led but paid the ultimate sacrifice."
Eleven months after Milk assumed office, he and then-mayor George Moscone were assassinated on the morning of November 27, 1978, inside City Hall by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White. Over the ensuing decades Milk has become a globally cherished LGBT rights advocate.
In 2013, gay former supervisor David Campos had proposed naming the entire airport after Milk. Due to a lack of support, Campos worked out a deal with the late mayor Ed Lee to instead name one of the airport's four terminals in honor of Milk.
"We are going to make it the coolest and gayest terminal we can make it be," pledged Campos at the signing ceremony.
Even that compromise was opposed by airport commission President Larry Mazzola, who argued areas of SFO should only be named for people with a direct connection to the airport. Yet, prior to winning public office, Milk had taken an interest in the city's airport and plans to expand it.
In a January 26, 1976 letter he sent to Moscone, simply addressed "George," on letterhead for the Castro Village Association, the group he formed to promote the city's then-burgeoning gay neighborhood, Milk laid out a proposal for expanding the airport without it costing the city.
"Just force the airlines to stagger their take-offs and landings. The airport expansion is needed for 'peak' traffic. That is when all the lines have half-full planes landing at the same time," wrote Milk. "It demands more buildings, wastes more fuel and costs the airlines a lot of money. If they were forced to land at non-peak rush hour times there would be plenty of room, a large saving of fuel and greater profits for an ailing industry."
Milk offered to meet with Moscone for a 10-minute "rap" session in order to give the mayor "grounds for a veto and setting up a study based upon changing the hours of the airlines."
(The letter is part of the George Moscone Collection housed at the University of the Pacific's Holt-Atherton Special Collections.)
Former supervisor Angela Alioto, who is running for mayor this year, has revived Campos' call for naming all of SFO after Milk. In a recent editorial board meeting with the B.A.R., Alioto said she would advance the proposal if there was a movement to do so.
"I knew Harvey," she said. "I know what it's like to stand up for your rights when everybody is calling you names. And then to be assassinated on top of all of it. But I think it's a great first step, the terminal. Those were tough times. It's tough now in a very different way, but those were tough times."
District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, currently the board's lone gay member and a co-sponsor of the terminal naming legislation, plans to pursue renaming the airport's access road in honor of Milk.
"Harvey was always about opening doors. When you come to San Francisco, the first door you go through is SFO," said Sheehy.
District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who had worked for Campos, took the lead on the board in ensuring the Milk terminal became a reality. She said Monday was "an exciting day" and that the Milk terminal would signal to queer youth who face persecution at home that they are "not only recognized in our city but cherished here."
Farrell used three pens to sign the legislation into law and gave one each to Campos, Ronen, and Stuart Milk.
A 1976 letter from Harvey Milk to then-mayor George Moscone discussed San Francisco International Airport.