Gov. Jerry Brown opposes bid to name Bay Bridge after Willie Brown

Willie Brown
Willie Brown poses for a photo in his office at the Willie Brown Institute in San Francisco.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown weighed in on the latest controversy surrounding the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge this week, but this one had nothing to do with safety concerns or cracking bolts.

The current dust-up is over naming rights, with a group of lawmakers hoping to rechristen the western span of the bridge in honor of former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Willie Brown remains a popular figure in the state Assembly, the house he led for nearly 15 years before being forced from office by term limits. Last month, lawmakers there bent a rule prohibiting the naming of roadways after living people, and voted 68-0 to rename the San Francisco side of the bridge after the man who once proclaimed himself as “the Ayatollah of the Assembly.”

The move was received less warmly in San Francisco, a city where Willie Brown served as mayor for eight years, but where progressive politics can often become personal.


Three former presidents of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have written letters to the  Legislature urging them to reject the name change. An online petition opposing the idea has gained thousands of signatures.

But Brown spokesman Evan Westrup told the San Francisco Chronicle this week that the governor has no intention of going along with such a change.

“Gov. Brown believes that the iconic Bay Bridge should keep the name that it has had for nearly 77 years,” Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor, said Tuesday. “It’s a name that lives in the hearts and minds of all Californians.”

And lest Willie Brown supporters cast their eye to the other side of the San Francisco Bay, where another iconic bridge spans the waters, Westrup added that the governor “feels the same way about the Golden Gate Bridge.”



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Twitter: @anthonyyorklat

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