Rose Pak stands greets supporters during an event celebrating her arrival from China at San Francisco International Airport Monday, May 23, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisors try again to get Rose Pak’s name on Central Subway Station

SFMTA policy requires station names to reflect geographical locations

For the second time in three years, the Board of Supervisors is urging Muni officials to name the Central Subway’s Chinatown station after the late community organizer Rose Pak.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced the new resolution calling for the naming at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting with Supervisors Norman Yee, Sandra Fewer, Shaman Walton, Ahsha Safai and Gordon Mar co-sponsoring.

“It’s appropriate to honor the community’s desire to see the station named after Central Subway’s biggest advocate, Rose Pak, who advocated at every level of government to bring Central Subway to Chinatown,” Peskin wrote in a statement.

Notably, Pak traveled to Washington D.C. during the project’s planning phase and is widely credited with helping The City win $500 million in federal grants.

In 2016, a proposal to urge the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to name the station after Pak hit a roadblock when the agency’s Board of Directors adopted a policy requiring stations to be named after geographic locations, to avoid confusion for passengers.

The policy only allows other areas in a station like plazas to be named after noteworthy people with “historical, cultural or political significance.”

Pak, who died in 2016 and spent much of her life advocating on behalf of San Francisco’s Chinese residents, certainly fits that bill, many said. But Chinatown leaders and the Board of Supervisors still want a station named after her.

On Tuesday Peskin suggested calling it “Rose Pak Chinatown Station” to satisfy SFMTA’s desire for clarity.

“I think we can both honor Rose’s leadership on this legacy project while simultaneously highlighting Chinatown’s geographic location,” he said. He added that as the subway has encountered multiple delays that have hurt local merchants’ pocketbooks, it would be a kind gesture.

Malcolm Yeung, deputy director at the Chinatown Community Development Center, an influential Chinatown nonprofit, said featuring the neighborhood in the name should suffice.

“The Chinatown designation makes it obvious” where the station is located, he said. Pak dedicated her life to “three things,” he said: Chinese Hospital, empowering Chinese Americans, and seeing the Central Subway built.

“This would be an appropriate way to honor her legacy,” he said.

Peskin’s resolution is non-binding, and as an independent department of The City, SFMTA is under no legal obligation to do what the supervisors say. However, one clause in the resolution is likely a demonstration of soft power.

The resolution states that the “Board of Supervisors strongly urges the SFMTA Board of Directors to name the Central Subway’s Chinatown Station the ‘Rose Pak Chinatown Station’ prior to June 30, 2019.”

Why is June important?

As one insider told the San Francisco Examiner, that seems to be a none-too-veiled reference to the end of the fiscal year when the SFMTA’s budget will come before the board for discussion and approval.

Not naming Chinatown Station after Pak may spark some late Chinese New Year firecrackers during budget talks, that insider suggested.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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