Panel Recommendation: Name SFO Terminal 1 for Harvey Milk
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The advisory panel tasked with naming a terminal at San Francisco International Airport after gay icon Harvey Milk is recommending it be the under renovation Terminal 1. It is also advising city leaders to name the airport's access road after Milk.
It is now up to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee to decide to accept the recommendations or reject them and name a different terminal in honor of Milk, who was gunned down in City Hall the morning of November 27, 1978 along with then-mayor George Moscone by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White. Milk was the first openly gay elected official in both San Francisco and California, having won a supervisor seat in 1977.
The Airport Facilities Naming Advisory Committee unanimously voted 8-0 on its recommendation at its third meeting Monday, June 26. Member Maggie Weiland was unable to attend due to an illness, and Bill Barnes, a gay man now working as an aide to gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, joined the committee to replace a gay mayoral appointee who was unable to make the meetings.
The decision was expected, since the committee members at their first two meetings had indicated they would select Terminal 1 as their preferred choice. A consensus had also quickly emerged behind the road naming idea, first broached by Jim Lazarus, the senior vice president for public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
"We need to consider the airport access way," said Lazarus this week, noting that the terminal naming idea is still controversial and the road naming could be an acceptable alternative.
Designating the first of the airport's four terminals after Milk could present a unique marketing opportunity, panel members had indicated, since Terminal 1 is currently undergoing a $2.4 billion remodel that will be unveiled in stages through 2024 and draw years of media coverage. They also had noted that christening the airport's access road as Harvey Milk Way would mean all four of the terminals, as well as the airport itself, would be attached to the former supervisor's name.
"There are some people in the community who may want something else," said panel member Alex Walker, a gay man who is an aide to state Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). "I hope the community makes its voice heard because this is the first step not the last."
In May, airport commission President Larry Mazzola sent the naming committee members, the supervisors, and mayor a letter expressing his opposition to its naming a terminal after Milk. Four years ago the airport's board created its own policy for naming areas of SFO, with one criterion being the person had to have a direct connection to the airport, noted Mazzola. Unsaid but suggested by his letter was that Milk did not.
"I'm confused and frustrated that the board would spend time and resources on a duplicative policy body, overriding the hard work of our committee without ever consulting our committee, and believe the board committee's mission to recommend a terminal be named at (SFO) flies in the face of the established Airport Naming Policy," wrote Mazzola.
Gay former Supervisor David Campos had said he prefers seeing the international terminal be named after Milk. The airport naming committee arose from Campos' initial proposal in 2013 to rename all of SFO after Milk. But it would require voters passing a charter amendment, and Campos was unable to secure the necessary votes at City Hall to place the idea on the ballot.
Lee and Campos ended up striking the compromise to name just a terminal after Milk. They proposed forming a naming committee and tasked it with recommending to the board and mayor which of SFO's four terminals should bear Milk's name.
Yet the panel had sat dormant because Lee did not name his five appointees to the nine-person body until earlier this year. The committee had three months to vote on a Milk terminal and opted not to discuss naming the other three terminals or any other airport facilities.
"I don't think there is a need for another meeting. Our work is done," said retired airport director John L. Martin, a gay man who was elected chair of the naming committee, at the end of Monday's meeting.