Forget the Willie Brown Bay Bridge


EDITORIAL As the California Legislature prepares to wrap up before fall recess, a resolution is working its way through the approval process to rename the western span of the Bay Bridge the "Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge."

Brown, who formerly served as mayor of San Francisco and speaker of the California Assembly, is known for boasting about his hobnobbing with the rich and famous in his San Francisco Chronicle column, "Willie's World." But to longtime progressive San Franciscans who spent decades trying to stem the tide of gentrification, he was the powerful figure that rolled out the welcome mat for high-end developers and corporate interests, whose interests in San Francisco revolved around profit alone.

As mayor, Brown presided over land-use policies that resulted in high-end developments at a time when evictions were rampant, a trend that rings familiar in today's tech-saturated San Francisco. Once, when pressed on the idea that his approach was making the city increasingly unaffordable, Brown's famous retort was: "If you don't make $50,000 a year in San Francisco, then you shouldn't live here."

It's not just Brown's insensitivity to struggling tenants, deep ties to corporate interests and high-end real-estate developers, or continued behind-the-scenes influence in San Francisco politics that cause us to squirm when we think about the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge bearing this politician's name. There's also the key question of whether Bay Area residents actually want to see this happen — and, given Brown's historic role as a divisive figure, the idea that there is universal support for such an idea is laughable.

A legislative analysis presented to the Assembly Committee on Transportation a few weeks ago noted that lawmakers actually came up with ground rules for big decisions like whether a bridge ought to be named after someone, to "promote fairness." The rules stipulate that such a proposal "must reflect a community consensus" — and guess what? Even Brown's editors over at the Chronicle issued a June editorial opposing the idea.

Not only that, but proposals like this are only supposed to come from representatives of the district where the thing being renamed is located — yet this scheme came from Assemblymember Isadore Hall, a Democrat from Compton. But despite clear failure to adhere to these basic rules, only a single committee member voted against naming the bridge after Brown.

Interestingly enough, the bill even includes a request for Caltrans to determine the cost of posting signs commemorating Brown, which would evidently be funded by donations from unspecified private sources.

If the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is going to be named after anyone, we agree that the honor should be reserved for beloved 19th-century San Francisco eccentric Joshua Abraham Norton, the Scotsman who proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States in 1859 and printed his own currency.

So far, a petition calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to name it the Emperor Norton Bay Bridge has garnered 1,800 signatures. "He was a champion of racial and religious unity, an advocate for women's suffrage [and] a defender of the people," the petition notes. That sounds more like something motorists can be proud of when they drive back and forth across the bay.



Posted by Guest III on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 7:01 am

When you've stopped markets having cycles and people having freewill, be sure to let us know.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 7:23 am

When you learn the meanings of words like "rootedness" and "community," please let us know.

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

embraces change.

While other words for "rootedness" are inert, apathetic, unimaginative and sclerotic.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 5:03 am

The Dot-Com types that came from the East Coast helped fuck up SF. Not enough of them left, unfortunately.

Posted by Richmondman on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

professional prepared for a transition of the local economy to a knowledge economy, and therefore personally you haven't done well out of these opportunities.

Got it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

Brown's political machinations delayed construction and endangered the lives of those forced to use the seismically-unsafe old span longer than necessary. Those delays also contributed to the skyrocketing costs. The bridge is the LAST thing that should be considered as an honor to this guy.

Jerry Brown also helped delay construction. Keep the name Brown away from the bridge.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Brown and Brown helped get us the funds.

Posted by anon on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown had an easy job as mayor since most of his tenure occurred during an economic boom, in spite of the fact that productive citizens were struggling and relentlessly oppressed while trying to earn enough to pay the criminal landlord rents. Most of his administration was to decide how to spend San Francisco largesse of the time. He was also the mayor who said, “if you don't earn $50,000-a-year, you should not live in San Francisco.” The median income then was about $55,221 annually. Willie Brown is not a great man and deserves no recognition, neither memorial. Blackness is not a determinant for extraordinary civic achievement. Brown was a typical disconnected and ineffective American politician of which there have been many in my lifetime beginning with the fulsome Praetorian and U.S. White House golfer, Dwight Eisenhower.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 12:51 pm
Posted by anon on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Any street named after a poltician could be seen as political. Shall we rename Washington Street?

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

things like streets and airports after Presidents. And as with Governors and Mayors, they are elected leader.

Naming a street after a union activist is a little too aggressive and ideological for many though, I'd posit.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

@Guest: I'm American, born and raised, and oppose the naming of any public properties after anything human.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 11:42 am
Posted by Guest on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

Name something else after Dianne Feinstein and her war profiteer husband Richard Blum.

We already have much of the Presidio named after the Fisher family who made their wealth on the backs of poorly paid garment workers.

Let's celebrate the public face of liberal San Francisco, run by financial capital, real estate mafioso Democrats.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

NAme the old bridge after him..

Posted by Guest on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 1:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2013 @ 9:55 am

Not a single vote against it - just a couple of abstentions from the usual extremist suspects.

It's a done deal because the NAACP is behind it and nobody wants to give them an opportunity to play the race card.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2013 @ 10:12 am

How about renaming sf's Nancy Pelosi Drive back to Middle Road?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

That was much worse because, unlike the bridge, it was actually the home or work address for many people, who incurred costs and inconvenience, and whose wishes were ignored, when their street was renamed after a trouble-making union rabble-rouser.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2013 @ 6:44 am

and likes sucking dirty russian pussy in the back of (neo) livery vehicles!


this town is a joke, and that bridge is emblematic of the structural failures inherent to democratic state capitalism.

Between this corrupt little fuck boy Willie "Hydrocephalic" Brown and his "legend" (sic), and the chortling, inimitable Ed "Smiling" Lee, the city was (has never been) never in less capable hands.


Posted by leftistrealistagainstCCSFestablishment on Sep. 10, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

But there are better battles to pick than this.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

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Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

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