The vote comes as SFO administrators and federal aviation officials continue to investigate the crash over the weekend of Asiana Flight 214 that led to the deaths of two Chinese students and injured 180 of the passengers arriving from South Korea.
In late April the Bay Area Reporter broke the news that city leaders had reached a compromise to name one of the four terminals at San Francisco International Airport after the slain gay rights leader rather than the entire airport as originally proposed by gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos.
The initial idea had caught many at City Hall by surprise and was met with fierce resistance from both the public and city leaders. The LGBT community itself was divided on the matter, with some questioning if the tribute to Milk was necessary while others embraced it as a powerful message that could resonate around the globe.
Others feared having to fight over the proposal at the ballot box in November, as renaming the airport would have required voters passing an amendment to the city’s charter. In an editorial the B.A.R. had warned such a political fight could divide the city along racial lines.
For months Campos was short the sixth vote at the Board of Supervisors he needed to put the charter amendment on the fall ballot. Then Mayor Ed Lee went on record as questioning the merits of the idea, as any number of former and current city leaders could be honored by having the airport named for them.
That led to Campos and Lee putting forward a compromise plan, where an Airport Facilities Naming Advisory Committee would recommend which of the airport’s terminals should be named after Milk, the city’s first gay elected official who was killed inside City Hall in 1978 along with then-Mayor George Moscone by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.
The board would name four people to the panel and the mayor would name five members. It would be given three months to present its recommendation to the board and could also recommend names for all of the airport’s terminals, as well as boarding areas and control towers. There are three domestic terminals and an international terminal.
The alternative proposal has the support of gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener as well as straight Supervisors John Avalos (D11), Jane Kim (D6), Eric Mar (D1), Norman Yee (D7), and Board President David Chiu (D3). They along with Campos are co-sponsors of the proposal.
As the B.A.R. reported in May, a separate naming committee created by the city’s airport commission is not keen on seeing a terminal be named after Milk or anyone else. It has been meeting to develop its own criteria and rules for naming SFO facilities.
Since 1985, 13 areas at the airport have been named after former airport commissioners, staff, and the late Congressman Tom Lantos, who represented San Mateo County and has the Terminal 3 Hub named in his h0nor.
Campos has insisted, however, that only the supervisors and mayor have the authority to name airport facilities.
The board’s Rules Committee will vote on the SFO terminals naming plan this Thursday, July 11. Campos expects the full board could then vote on it as early as Tuesday, July 16.
He would like to have the naming panel members selected by August. The panel could then decide on the terminal that will bear Milk’s name by November, which marks the 35th anniversary of the assassinations of Milk and Moscone.
Already, some are pushing to see the International Terminal be named after Milk.
The Rules Committee hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. in Room 263 at City Hall.