Busch, Corey: Yerba Buena Center
Corey Busch: In the early 60’s the Mayor of San Francisco was George Christopher and then followed by Jack Shelley and followed by Joe Alioto. I think it’s fair to say if you look at San Francisco in the 50’s and the 60’s and even the early part of the 70’s, the city was pretty much dominated by white men. Irish and Italian. And what we later came to dub – sorta – “the downtown interest,” and that had pretty much been the way it was in San Francisco. San Francisco wasn’t unique. It wasn’t the only city in that period of American history dominated by older white men, but certainly San Francisco was. There were a number of changes taking place demographically, sociologically in San Francisco during that time that I think was the beginning of the emergence of a different order in the city which I believe not culminated, but really came of age when George was elected Mayor, and he made sweeping changes to the boards and commissions of San Francisco. And San Francisco is a city, because it’s run by a charter, that there’s a tremendous amount of power that is delegated to the various boards and commissions that are appointed in San Francisco. When George became Mayor in San Francisco in 1976, and in a very famous statement he made toward the end of the campaign where if elected he was gonna ask for the resignation of every member of every board and commission in the city, which caught a lot of people off-guard including those of us in the campaign and particularly a lot of people on boards and commissions that had term appointments. In other words people who were gonna stay even after George was elected, but he had promised during the campaign that he was gonna open up the doors and windows of City Hall to a new order. He was gonna bring people in from all corners of the city, all stripes: men, women, rich, poor, ethnic, straight, gay, you name it. And he wanted to make good on that promise, and he did. That, I think, really was the beginning of a real change in the political power of San Francisco. It took us from those days from the 50’s and 60’s when the city was really dominated by White men and by the sort of business/downtown interest to a time where the whole city was brought in, had a seat at the table, and you began to see some real changes. The beauty of what George did in terms of the diversity that he brought into City Hall is that you can never go back from that. It may go off course a little bit from time to time, but San Francisco since then has been a city where the people who sit on those boards and commissions, the people who make policy do come from a much more diverse and much broader cross-section of San Franciscans than anyone ever could have imagined before George Moscone became mayor.
The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library
To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.
Rubin, Jon and Busch, Corey, "Busch, Corey: Yerba Buena Center" (2009). Moscone Oral Histories. 41.