SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has voted to name a new subway station in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood after political power broker Rose Pak.
Controversy and anger erupted at city hall as many from the Chinese community urged the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to say no to Rose Pak.
After nearly 6 hours of public comment, the board finally took a vote. It was a close vote, 4-3 to put Rose Pak’s name on the signage at the Chinatown Station.
Community members started lining up as early as noon to get their chance to weigh in on whether to name the station, the Chinatown Rose Pak Station.
One after another, speakers pleaded with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors to eliminate the name that triggers so much anger and divide within the Chinese community.
Alicia Zhao with the Coalition for Chinatown Only says Rose Pak was a communist and didn’t support those in her community. Betty Louie with the Chinatown Merchants Association agreed, “She threatens people, she’s a bully.”
The SFMTA actually took a vote on this issue in June and deadlocked. This time around, Steve Heminger, who was recently appointed by the mayor’s office and Board of Supervisors served as the tiebreaker.
Supporters of Rose Pak were few and far between but they wanted to make it clear, Pak was instrumental in getting the Central Subway built in the first place and stood up for the Chinese community. They feel her only fault was she was often misunderstood.
Irene Collier says, “Pak was not a communist, she was a journalist, an activist.”
The Central Subway starts at 4th and King and runs through downtown, with the final stop being the Chinatown Station. It was supposed to open last year but the new target date is set for early next year.
Opponents say they will fight the vote. They will look to put this issue on the ballot to let voters decide.