Adding Harvey Milk’s name to SFO could cost less than anticipated 

The cost to rename SFO could be as low as $355,000. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • The cost to rename SFO could be as low as $355,000.

The cost of adding the name of slain gay-rights icon and former Supervisor Harvey Milk to the title of San Francisco International Airport could be as low as $355,000, according to a new report.

That’s significantly lower than initial estimates of $4.1 million or more offered by airport officials, a figure gleaned from costs associated with adding Thurgood Marshall’s name to Baltimore’s airport, according to the report from the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The report mentions that other costs could eventually be incurred, but merely changing the large sign on the exterior of SFO would be $355,000, the report said.

San Francisco would be under no legal obligation to change the 36 freeway signs mentioning the airport that are on Bay Area roads. Freeway signage is typically the domain of Caltrans, and the airport’s estimate of the cost of changing the signs exceeds a Caltrans estimate by $2,510,600, “or nearly 349 percent,” according to the report.

It would cost Caltrans $20,000 per sign to add Milk’s name to signage, the report said. Signage around other hubs, such as Norman E. Mineta San Jose International Airport, does not include the former U.S. transportation secretary’s name.

The 36 highway signs around SFO read either “airport,” “San Francisco Airport” or “San Francisco International Airport,” according to the report.

Rebranding the airport as “Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport” is the brainchild of Supervisor David Campos, one of the board’s  two openly gay members.

Campos said Wednesday he doesn’t know why the airport’s estimate was so “very exaggerated,” adding that the final cost would depend on how many signs are changed and that bill — which would not come out of The City’s annual general fund, which is close to $7 billion — could be covered by donors.

Campos says changing the main signage and several highway signs would cost $500,000.

“We don’t want to stop or change the airport’s branding efforts,” Campos said.

Milk, one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials, was fatally shot in City Hall in 1978, along with Mayor George Moscone.

Campos, who is rumored to be eyeing the state Assembly seat currently held by Tom Ammiano, wants to put the name-change question before voters in November.

Votes from six members of the Board of Supervisors are required to qualify a proposition for the local ballot. Campos currently has five co-sponsors.

Airport officials contacted late Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment by Wednesday evening.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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