Rose Pak will be remembered for the Central Subway one way or another. After all, she pushed for the project as forcefully as the boring machine that drilled the 1.7-mile tunnel from Chinatown to Market Street. Still, the Board of Supervisors has indicated they'd like the SFMTA to make her connection to the project official, naming the Central Subway's Chinatown station after the late political organizer.
Pak's funeral on September 24 was an unofficial holiday in Chinatown, a neighborhood whose interests she represented and power she wielded right up until her death last month. As recently as this summer, after undergoing treatment in China for kidney problems, she was busy shutting down a proposed pedestrian mall by threatening to blockade it.
The Central Subway project, which extends the Muni T-Third line and is set to open in 2019, was proposed to make up for the removal of the 1989 earthquake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway — a main artery into and out of the sometimes isolated Chinatown. Opponents claimed the plan unfairly pandered to the interests of Pak's neighborhood and that it was too expensive at an estimated $1.5 billion. Plans to extend the Central Subway to Fisherman's Wharf have been repeatedly stymied.
But a resolution "urging the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board (SFMTA) of Directors to engage a community-led process to name Central Subway’s Chinatown Station the Central Subway’s Rose Pak Station" appealed to the Board of Supervisors. It now sits before Mayor Ed Lee, a close personal friend and political ally of the late Pak (a rough patch in their relationship notwithstanding).
"Rose Pak dedicated over 40 years advocating for the construction and completion of the Central Subway to increase connectivity between Chinatown and the rest of the city," reads the resolution, which notes that 72 precent of households along the route of the Central Subway don't own cars.
So what do you say, SFMTA? If the station's a flop, at least people will know whom they've got to thank. And really, whatever the outcome, the ghost of Rose Pak will be with San Francisco for some time yet.