SF could name street in honor of late Public Defender Jeff Adachi

A small South of Market street near San Francisco’s Public Defender’s Office could soon bear the name of its late leader, Jeff Adachi.

Adachi, who was first elected as The City’s public defender in 2002, died suddenly on Feb. 22 at age 59. He is remembered as a fierce champion for justice who condemned and exposed police misconduct in San Francisco.

Supervisor Matt Haney will introduce a resolution at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to rechristen Gilbert Street, which runs parallel to Sixth and Seventh streets between Bryant and Brannan streets, in Adachi’s honor. He plans to rename the street “Jeff Adachi Way.”

Once adopted by the Board of Supervisors, the resolution would direct the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to create a new street sign that includes Jeff Adachi Way in “a larger font with Gilbert Street in a smaller font beneath it for a five -year period.”

After that period, a new sign carrying only the name Jeff Adachi Way will replace the old signs.

Haney said he selected Gilbert Street as Adachi’s namesake because for decades Adachi walked from the Public Defender’s Office’s back door out onto Gilbert Street, en route to the courthouse at 850 Bryant St.

“Jeff would use Gilbert Street not just as his daily thoroughfare, but also as a place to connect with, mentor, and support fellow attorneys on their way to and from the court,” said Haney in a statement on Tuesday. “It is a fitting tribute to Jeff’s legacy as a champion of justice and fairness to rename Gilbert St. in his honor. In the future, countless attorneys will walk down Jeff Adachi Way and be reminded of his unrelenting commitment to justice, as they step into the Hall of Justice to further his legacy themselves.”

Adachi first joined the Public Defender’s office as a trial lawyer in 1987 and served as Chief Attorney there from 1999 until he was elected to its helm.

Haney said that Adachi treaded on Gilbert Street for some three decades, and hopes that carving his legacy onto streets sign near the Public Defender’s office will inspire other public defenders to follow in his footsteps.

“Jeff inspired multiple generations of lawyers to follow his example; to be fearless, to never waiver in the struggle for equal justice under the law,” said Haney.

Manohar Raju, who was appointed earlier this month as Adachi’s successor, said in a statement that Adachi “left an imprint on the neighborhood and communities of San Francisco, so it’s fitting that this city that he loved so much would name a street after him.”

“The Adachi family and the Public Defender’s Office are honored by Supervisor Haney’s resolution renaming Gilbert Street to Jeff Adachi Way,” said Raju.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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