Name change would honor Willie Brown

March 17, 2009 7:09:35 PM PDT
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown may get the honor of a lifetime. Tuesday, as he celebrated his 75th birthday in Paris, legislation was introduced to name a street after him.

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Some people are already calling Third Street Willie Way.

Willie Brown Junior was mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004 and was the first African American elected.

Now, current Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to rename the entire 5 mile stretch of Third Street from downtown through the Bayview neighborhood after Brown.

"Personally, I think it would be a good idea as far as a change; something new," Latisha Bennett said. Bennett owns Trend Setters Beauty Shop, located on Third Street.

Leroy Wise would rather keep it downtown.

"This side of the ballpark, leave it Third Street, it's got a lot of history for the neighborhood," Wise said.

In 1995, when Army Street switched to Cesar Chavez to honor the labor leader, some critics fought it all the way to the ballot box, and lost. Their opposition was partly political, partly practical.

The owner of a futon shop liked the change, but says it confused her customers.

"they didn't have Mapquest or Google Maps at the time, so it was a little more challenging," Suzanne Diamond said.

Frank Jordan was mayor at the time and opposed the change.

"We all have an affinity or feeling for it, when you lose it, you feel you lose part of yourself," Jordan said.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell introduced the measure.

"Willie Brown is an icon in the city; he's done a lot in the city and for the city in Sacramento, and he's been a lot of firsts," Maxwell said.

If the measure eventually passes, there will be a five year transition period in which the streets signs will carry dual names to help everyone adjust.

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