SFO Announces List Of Nominees For Naming Committee

Eight prominent Bay Area residents have been nominated to a newly formed committee that will establish a process to rename San Francisco International Airport.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Redwood City Councilwoman Rosanne Foust and former CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Lee Blitch are among the nominees to the Airport Naming Committee, acting SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said today.

The committee was established by the Airport Commission in March, largely in response to past and present efforts by elected officials and members of the public to rename SFO after a notable Bay Area figure.

“They noted the fact that there have been previous efforts to rename the airport, and that it will probably come up again,” Yakel said.

Former San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto, U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, and most recently San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk have been among those brought up as potential namesakes for the Bay Area’s largest and busiest airport.

The SFO Airport Naming Committee will establish a set of policies and guiding principles for the naming or dedication of SFO, but they will not decide what the name should be, Yakel said.

“They’re not coming up with the ‘who,’ they’re coming up with the ‘how,’” Yakel said.

In February, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and members of the LGBT community held a rally outside City Hall to support putting a measure before the voters that would rename SFO after Milk.

Yakel said that the Airport Naming Committee would not be “rendering judgment” on any potential ballot initiative or popular movement, but would actively seek input from community leaders and the public on a establishing a path to renaming SFO.

“This group will definitely want to solicit feedback from the public,” Yakel said.

Other nominees to the committee are: Board member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and executive director of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund Pamela David; Airport Commissioner Linda Crayton; San Francisco Travel Association vice president of public policy Jon Ballesteros; United Airlines director of corporate and government affairs Melinda Yee Franklin; and former Airport Commissioner Caryl Ito.

Airport Commission President Larry Mazzola issued a statement praising the eight nominees as a group that “reflects awareness of the social, cultural, historical and business interests of the City and County of San Francisco.”

“The airport has had the same name for nearly 60 years and the brand and reputation are internationally recognized,” Mazzola said. “We want to create a public process that recognizes and incorporates the airport’s history.”

The eight nominees are expected to be appointed to the committee when the Airport Commission meets on April 16.

The commission meetings are open to the public and are held in Room 400 at San Francisco City Hall.

Chris Cooney, Bay City News

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