Voters to decide name of historic boulevard in November

Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

City Council members voted unanimously Thursday, June 6 to place the Paseo/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard name change before voters on the November 5 ballot.

The question will ask voters city-wide if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard should be changed back to The Paseo.

Since the January 26, 2019 legislative session, which saw The Paseo changed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a group of grassroots community activists called Save The Paseo have been working to inform residents, gather signatures, and reclaim the historic street name.

After gathering more than the required number of signatures, the petition was filed with the city clerk, sent to four election boards for verification, approved, and put before council.

Donned in matching shirts, members of the Save The Paseo group were in attendance at Thursday’s legislative meeting, awaiting the outcome.

Before the matter was put before council for a vote, Councilwoman Alissia Canady stood up to speak on the matter.

“This issue was one that both sides were very passionate about,” she said. “It was very clear to me, from the onset of this, that there was not buy-in from the stakeholders along The Paseo at the time. I was really surprised because this is the first time we have taken political action against neighborhood support.”

Speaking about the Save The Paseo group, Canady acknowledged the work and effort they have put in over the last five months.

“I think this is probably one of the most heroic acts of city engagement that I’ve seen on my time at council because it brought people together.”

Resident Diane Faelber, a member of Save The Paseo, said she did not expect a unanimous vote, but did expect some pushback.

“It is a long way until November. I hope we can be unified as a city and find an appropriate and agreeable street that the people can agree on. It was hijacked. [The city council] knew the opposition was at least 85 percent and did it anyway. They just shoved The Paseo through. There were meetings and other streets brought up that were far more favorable. That was completely dismissed. They knew The Paseo was unpopular and divisive and ignored that.”

When asked what the group plans to do from now until November, she said the goal was to make as many people aware as possible.

“I think we talk to people. People know what’s going on. They were stunned when it came out that the name had been changed. The main thing is to get out and vote. When 14 percent of people make these kind of decisions for the rest, that’s wrong.”

Resident and member of Save The Paseo John Bordeau said he did expect the council to approve this, on the basis of legalities.

“I think the council wanted to show the citizens that they supported the idea that the citizens should all have input on this. It was an important showing for the council to recognize that the democratic process is appropriate here. I couldn’t see anyone actually voting against that. Who would take the position that they don’t want the voters to speak out on this?” he said.

Regardless of the outcome of the November vote, Bordeau said he’s proud of the work that the group did together to get this in front of voters city-wide.

“I don’t know if we’ll win or lose, but the idea is that everyone is going to have a chance to have a say about this historical asset known as The Paseo.”

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