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Is Justin Herman someone we want a plaza named after?

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin Tuesday introduced legislation calling for Justin Herman Plaza, named for a controversial former director of The City’s redevelopment agency, to be renamed.

Justin Herman, who led the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency in the 1960s, oversaw “urban renewal” and “slum clearance” projects in the Western Addition during his tenure from 1959 to 1971.

Those projects “displaced approximately 4,000 residents, small businesses, and bull-dozed 60 square blocks of the City,” according to the resolution Peskin introduced Tuesday.

The resolution calls for the Recreation and Parks Commission to remove Herman’s name from the plaza at the foot of Embarcadero and Market Street, and refer to it as Embarcadero Plaza until a new name can be agreed upon.

At least two petitions launched by city residents in recent years have called for the plaza to be renamed after poet Maya Angelou, a former San Francisco Municipal Railway driver, instead.

At least one legislator, Supervisor Chris Daly, introduced a resolution in 2001 to have the plaza renamed, but that effort failed to win support.

Peskin’s resolution calls for the plaza to be named after an honored resident who:

“… should embody San Francisco values of equity, inclusion and forward-thinking.”

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