The name of Justin Herman is all but certainly going to be removed from the plaza at the foot of Market Street, but a vote taken by the Recreation and Parks Commission in favor of the change has been determined to be invalid because of a procedural error, so the final vote will have to wait until next month.

As the Examiner reports, four out of seven commissioners appeared to be voting in favor, however Commissioner Eric McDonnell, who spoke in favor of the change during the discussion, ended up having to leave the meeting early for an appointment and technically missed the actual vote. So, legally, the vote was 3-3, and the commission will have to take another vote at its next meeting in November.

The push to change the name of the plaza has been growing stronger in recent years, as more of the public learns that the legacy of former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency director Justin Herman is not an altogether spotless one. Namely, he oversaw the much criticized redevelopment of the Fillmore District in the 1960's, destroying a well established community, killing off its music scene, and displacing thousands of people in the name of "urban renewal." Famously, in 1970, Herman said, "This land is too valuable to permit poor people to park on it," and now he is known as the villain who spearheaded a mass displacement that deeply impacted several generations of the local African American community.

Last month, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of renaming the plaza, passing a resolution that states the plaza should be called "the Embarcadero Plaza" until such time as a "suitable honoree has been agreed upon." One leading candidate has been the late poet and author Maya Angelou, who famously became SF's first African-American female streetcar conductor.

Also, a petition calling for the name change drew over 15,000 signatures this year.

Rec & Parks Commissioner Larry Mazzola, Jr. was seen as casting the deciding vote in Thursday's meeting, and he cited the Supervisors' unanimous vote as what swayed him.

As KQED reports, a few people who worked in SF government and at the SFRA in Herman's time spoke out at the meeting in support of his legacy, and in opposition to the name change. Art Evans, Herman's deputy at the SFRA, told those assembled at the meeting, "It was a very, very difficult period, and it’s quite easy to stand here now and look back and say, ‘He should have done this and that.' Industry was moving out, jobs were being lost. The school system was having really serious problems.… These people signing the petition don’t know what the situation was in those days."

But Supervisor Aaron Peskin and others spoke out, as KQED tells us, trying to assuage concerns that Herman was being demonized with this vote. "This was not just about one man,” Peskin said. “This all happened under three mayors with dozens of members of the Board of Supervisors in a very different time… But we’ve learned a lot and I think it’s time to turn the page on this chapter of history.”

Previously: Entire Board of Supervisors Wants To Rename Justin Herman Plaza