Quentin L. Kopp

Quentin Lewis Kopp (born August 11, 1928) is an American politician and retired judge. He served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and in the California State Senate. Kopp ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of San Francisco in 1979 against Dianne Feinstein. Kopp advocated for the extension of BART to SFO which was completed in 2003.

Background and personal life

Kopp was born in 1928 in Syracuse, New York. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1949 and later from Harvard Law School. Kopp is married to the former Mara Sikaters and has three children: his eldest son, Shepard, is a criminal defense attorney working in Los Angeles. His second son, Brad Kopp, is a musician who goes by the name Stark Raving Brad and lives in San Francisco. His daughter Jennifer is the executive director of the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association.

Kopp was elected to a political office as an independent politician, rather than as a member of a political party. For a time, Kopp held a time slot as a radio talk show host on KGO-AM, a popular talk radio station.

Kopp had his home phone number and address listed in the local phone book and was well known to answer at any reasonable hour. Personal replies to letters were common.

When he was a Supervisor, Kopp generally followed a policy of riding MUNI (SF's Bus/Rail) to City Hall one day a week at minimum.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Kopp was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1971 and served until 1986, representing the conservative West Portal neighborhood.

San Francisco Mayoral bid

After his colleague and political ally, Dianne Feinstein, lost the mayor's race in 1975, she agreed not to run for mayor again and support Kopp's bid for mayor in 1979. However, in 1978, mayor George Moscone was assassinated along with civil rights leader Harvey Milk at City Hall, making Feinstein, then President of the Board of Supervisors, the new mayor.

In 1979, Kopp ran for mayor against Feinstein, but narrowly lost in a runoff election. This election also featured Jello Biafra (singer for the punk band Dead Kennedys).

California State Senate

In 1986, Kopp ran for California State Senate as an independent in a heavily Democratic district straddling south San Francisco and northern San Mateo counties. Republican distaste for the Democratic nominee (then Assemblyman Lou Papan)[1] led them to financially support Kopp, who went on to win by just 1 percentage point. He won reelection in 1990 and 1994. Term limits prevented Kopp from seeking reelection in 1998.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge

In 1998, Republican then-Governor Pete Wilson appointed Kopp to a judgeship in San Mateo County. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 2004.

Advocacy for BART extension to SFO

During his time in the California State Senate, and afterward, Kopp, together with Mike Nevin, helped push through the BART extension to San Francisco International Airport with an airport station.[2] In 1994, Kopp qualified an advisory ballot measure in San Francisco, Measure I, which advocated for a station inside the International Terminal. This resulted in the BART extension being built as a triangle, with the vertices being the San Bruno station at Tanforan Shopping Center, and not on the Caltrain Right-of-Way, Millbrae (Caltrain terminal) and SFO International Terminal. To get to all the stations on the extension, the BART train has to reverse at least once. The alternative rejected by Kopp was single station at San Bruno, California where the SFO People mover, BART and Caltrain would share a common station.

The extension of the SFO People Mover across to the station was to be paid for as part of the traffic mitigation for the new International Terminal.

California High Speed Rail Authority


Most recently, Kopp serves as a member of the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA).[3] As Chairman he has worked to lead statewide efforts to develop an 800-mile high speed train network linking northern and southern California with fast, reliable, and environmentally friendly trains capable of traveling at up to 220 mph (350 km/h).[3] To help fund the project, Kopp led efforts to pass Proposition 1A in November 2008 - a $9.95 billion bond that has created the momentum that has led to the project receiving billions in federal funds. California's High-Speed Rail project is in line to be the first true HSR system to be built in the U.S.

Transbay Terminal and Anaheim Station Funding Controversy

On 28 January 2009, without informing the CHSRA board, and without any vote, Kopp sent a list on Rail Authority letterhead to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of "projects that CHSRA has identified...which can currently be commenced." The list omitted[4] any requests for funds for two shovel ready projects: The Anaheim Station and Transbay Terminal extension in San Francisco, which would also serve as a key connection for transit riders arriving from the East Bay, following the decision to align the rail line through the South Bay and Pacheco Pass rather than the East Bay and Altamont Pass. Both the Anaheim Station and Transbay terminal projects had environmental review work completed based on input from the Authority.

At the 5 March 2009 board meeting of the Rail Authority in Sacramento, when it became clear that another rail authority board member had obtained a copy of Kopp's letter, Kopp tried to hastily cure the record. He departed from the Board's meeting agenda and attempted to conduct an ad hoc vote of those board members in attendance regarding a project list which was never provided to the public and without any advance notice, a maneuver that the Train Riders Association of California (TRAC) considers a clear and egregious violation of the Brown Act.[4]

Quentin L. Kopp Freeway

Interstate 380 in San Mateo County, a short, urban freeway connector, was renamed the "Quentin L. Kopp Freeway". The road was previously named the Portola Freeway by California's State Legislature, after Gaspar de Portolà.


  1. California Journal Vol. XXI, No.5 (May 1990) "Complete District-by-district Analysis". StateNet Publications, May 1990.
  2. 1 2 High Speed Rail Authority Web Site, About Page, Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  3. 1 2 Richard Tolmach (April 2009). "Kopp in Firestorm with SF over projects letter" (PDF). Train Riders' Association of California.

Further reading

External links

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