Chinatown Merchants Association Speaks Out Against Naming Subway Station After Rose Pak

June 20, 2019 Updated: June 20, 2019

San Francisco District 3 supervisor Aaron Peskin recently reintroduced a resolution strongly urging the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors to name the Central Subway’s new Chinatown station after the late political power broker Rose Pak.

Many San Francisco residents have called for the city’s Board of Supervisors not to name the station after Pak because of her alleged corruption and ties with communist China. Families and other community members who have made prominent contributions to the Chinatown community have spoken out against the resolution. The Chinatown Merchants Association is one of them.

Eva Lee, whose family founded the Chinatown Merchants Association, spoke at a Board of Supervisors meeting on June 11 about why the station should not be named after Pak.

“Chinatown Merchants Association supports the name of the Central Subway stop to [be] ‘Chinatown Station’ only. We can concur [with] the larger Chinatown community that Rose Pak’s name should not be included due to her controversial reputation,” Lee said.

Lee’s family is influential in San Francisco’s Chinatown. At some point, the family owned up to 10 stores on Grant Avenue, according to SFGate. They were not only business owners, but also activists and philanthropists in Chinatown.

A well-known event that Lee’s family helped to hold was the Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival to draw crowds back to Chinatown after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

The family has reportedly been bullied by Pak before.

“She is a bully,” Lee said.

Lee shared that many had negative experiences with Pak, including intimidation and death threats. Lee’s father, Sinclair Louie, received death threats because he did not agree with Pak on the topic of the Embarcadero Freeway.

The Central Subway station is on a new subway line that will redirect the T-Third line, mostly underneath Fourth Street from the Caltrain station at King Street along the 1.7 mile alignment. Its budget to complete the 1.7 miles of subway is $1.578 billion.

One main reason Peskin gave for naming the station after Pak is that she persuaded the federal government to contribute $500 million to this project.

However, Lee said that many people were against it because it was “millions of dollars spent on 1.7 miles.”

She said that if Pak is recognized for getting the funding, the merchants who sacrificed their businesses during the construction should also be recognized for this cause.

Although the controversial resolution has been stopped temporarily because the SFMTA’s vote on it was tied 3-3, many residents continue to express their objection to naming a prominent public transit station after Pak.

The SFMTA has seven board members. The vote took place when one board member position was vacant, but soon to be filled.

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