Despite $5,200 Price Tag, No Movement On Renaming Justin Herman Plaza

Justin Herman Plaza. | Photo: Shani Heckman/Flickr
By Shane Downing - Published on May 12, 2017.

Should Justin Herman Plaza be renamed?

Supervisors Breed, Cohen and Peskin think so, but change has been slow.

Justin Herman was executive director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency from 1959 to 1971. Herman's policies were responsible for leveling much of the Fillmore district, where thousands of homes were razed, displacing thousands of minority and low-income residents.

Justin Herman in 1970. | Photo: 1969 SFRA ANNUAL ReporT

After his death, Justin Herman Plaza was opened in 1972 and has been managed by SF Rec and Park ever since.

Former District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly introduced a resolution in 2001 to remove Herman’s name from the plaza; however, it never made it to a board hearing.

In 2015, a local couple started a petition to rename the plaza after poet and activist Maya Angelou, who also happened to be San Francisco’s first black female streetcar conductor, but that effort also fizzled out.

Photo: The West End/Flickr

Hoodline reached out to Supervisors Breed and Cohen to see what progress, if any, has been made with an Embarcadero plaza name change.

“The plaza needs a new name,” they replied jointly via email, “one that reflects more positively on our city and its legacy as a place that celebrates all communities.”

The supervisors said that Maya Angelou’s name, along with others, has been suggested to replace Herman’s name, and that they’re “eager to see” a robust public process to rename the plaza initiated.

The plaza is located in Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s District 3, and he told the Chronicle’s David Talbot that, given the “memories of a dark time” the current name evokes, he’d welcome a public conversation about renaming the plaza.

Photo: nayrb7/Flickr

However, even though supervisors Breed, Cohen and Peskin are all on board with finding a name that better fits San Francisco’s legacy, no one has publicly come out to champion the matter.

How exactly is a city-owned plaza renamed?

Either the Rec and Park Commission or the Board of Supervisors has the power to rename Justin Herman Plaza, although if the Rec and Park Commission votes to rechristen the space, the Board of Supervisors would be able to accept or reject the change.

If renamed, it would cost roughly $5,200 to change signage around the city-owned plaza, although there may be additional costs that haven’t been assessed yet.

Do you think Justin Herman Plaza should be renamed?

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Mission Bay

New Belgium Brewing opens first company flagship restaurant and taproom in Mission Bay

Sandwiched between Oracle Park and the Chase Center, New Belgium Brewing — one of the largest craft brewers in the country — officially opened its first company-owned and operated taproom and eatery, New Belgium, at 1000a 3rd Street in San Francisco on Friday.  Read More

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Castro Duboce Triangle

Team with Saison ties set to open Mexican restaurant Comodo in the Castro

Hoodline has learned that two people who are part of the restaurant group behind two-Michelin-starred Saison are set to open a new Mexican restaurant at 2223 Market St., formerly Nomica and before that neighborhood favorite 2223 Restaurant. Read More

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Civic Center Mid-Market Tenderloin

New Tenderloin program aims to elevate youth voices and promote young leaders

The Tenderloin will see a boost in after-school and community activities for teens and older transitional-aged youth through a new program funded in part by a federal grant. Read More

Apr 08, 2021
San Francisco Ingleside

New Jersey-based Korean American grocery chain H Mart set to open at the edge of Oceanview

At long last, after about an 18-month delay, popular Korean American grocer H Mart is opening its first San Francisco location in OceanView Village at a near-term date still to be announced. Read More