San Francisco International Airport (SFO) will have one of its terminals named in honor of Harvey Milk, the city said on Tuesday. Many activists in the city had initially hoped to re-name the airport at large to commemorate Milk. Plans were scrapped though after significant opposition from members of the public and also within the Board of Supervisors, including Mayor Ed Lee.
Supervisor David Campos first put forward the idea of ‘Harvey Milk International Airport.’ He needed the support of one further member of the Board to proceed with a ballot initiative. However, San Francisco’s supervisors concluded that re-naming a terminal at SFO would best serve upholding Milk’s legacy, given the prospect of a divisive public vote on changing the entire airport’s name.
Campos will now plan to establish a committee to decide on which of SFO’s four passenger terminals should commemorate Milk’s life. The committee will have three months to deliver a recommendation and it will also discuss other airport structures, which could honor other prominent San Franciscans.
A rally had been held outside City Hall on February 22, featuring both Campos and Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart, to campaign for SFO to be re-named. Stuart Milk, who is also the co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, said that a gesture ought to be made in dedication to his uncle.
“Harvey took bullets for this community and the city should have a symbol to recognize this,” Milk told 429Magazine.
“Others have been held on the shoulders of my uncle. His was a candidacy of the people. He was the one martyr, the one person who had the message to free our community,” he added.
Considerable opposition to the plans ultimately halted a ballot initiative. The high costs of a change were cited by many as the main reason not to proceed with those arguing that funds could be directed at more important issues in San Francisco. SFO administrators completed a calculation that placed the potential price tag at $4 million, including the cost to change highway signs, airport signage, maps and directions.
The Bay Area Reporter summarized the initiative to rename the airport as a “flight of fancy” that could “divide the city, turn our friends against us, and zap resources that might be needed for other battles.”