CCSF backs Frida Kahlo name for Phelan Avenue


City College of San Francisco could soon be getting a new address: 50 Frida Kahlo Way.

District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee announced the results of a community public vote on Wednesday of changing Phelan Avenue after learning the history of James Duval Phelan, who was the former mayor of San Francisco. Phelan had been an advocate of excluding Asians from entering the United States and into The City.

The name of Phelan Avenue, though, was not named after the former mayor, but Phelan’s father, who was also named James Phelan.

Though the avenue was not named after the mayor, Yee said the name itself still resonated with the mayor and his past:

“This name represents a very racist time for San Francisco.”

CCSF Chancellor Mark Rocha said:

“This is an extremely moment in the history of City College and in the history of San Francisco.”

Rocha said of Kahlo:

“Frida Kahlo as you know was a pioneering feminist artist who poised important questions … about issues of race, class, gender and social justice.”

It was fitting for the community to rename the street after Kahlo who was once married to Mexican painter Diego Rivera, whose Pan American Unity Mural is currently inside the college’s theater, named after him, said Rocha.

Residents who live on Phelan Avenue were given a chance to have input and a vote through a renaming committee commissioned by Yee’s office..

Frida Kahlo Way received the most votes from the community out of choices, according to Yee’s office.

The CCSF Board of Trustees also supported to rename Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way through a resolution.

To get the legislative process moving, Yee will introduce a resolution at the Board of Supervisors to rename the street.

Jarlene Choy, a legislative aide for Yee, said the renaming of Phelan Avenue will also have go through the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Yee said it could take about nine months to get the street officially renamed which runs from Ocean to Flood avenues.

If the street renaming gets approved, Yee said there would be a five-year transition period where residents could still use Phelan Avenue while preparing for the street change.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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