Western Span Of Bay Bridge To Be Named After Willie Brown Tuesday, “I’m excited about it,” Says Mayor Lee

The Bay Bridge’s western span is being officially renamed Tuesday after former San Francisco Mayor and state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in a ceremony on the city’s Treasure Island.

The state Legislature last September voted to rename the bridge’s western span as the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bay Bridge.

Brown served in the state Assembly from 1965 to 1995, including as Speaker from 1980 until the end of his tenure. He then served as San Francisco’s mayor from 1996 to 2004.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who succeeded Brown as the city’s mayor, is among the planned attendees for Tuesday’s ceremony, scheduled for noon on Treasure Island.

Other dignitaries set to attend the event include groundbreaking black journalist Belva Davis and Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, the legislator who authored the resolution to rename the bridge after Brown, organizers said.

Current San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said today that he supports the renaming of the bridge after Brown.

“I’m excited about it,” Lee said. “Willie has had such an illustrious history, not only with us in San Francisco but with the state Legislature.”

However, the renaming of the bridge has drawn criticism from some who say Brown was to blame for some of the delays and high costs associated with the construction of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which opened last September.

One critic, local ethics watchdog Bob Planthold, even filed a lawsuit seeking to block the renaming of the bridge.

The lawsuit alleges that the Legislature bypassed several of its policies to fast-track the approval of the resolution and did not allow for adequate public input on the name change.

The state’s Office of Legislative Counsel has responded to the lawsuit by saying the houses of the state Legislature have the “exclusive constitutional authority to make, amend, or waive their own procedural rules.”

The case is scheduled to be in court on March 18 at the Civic Center Courthouse in San Francisco.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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