Quentin L. Kopp

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Quentin L. Kopp
Member of the California Senate
from the 8th district
In office
December 1, 1986 – November 30, 1998
Preceded byJohn Francis Foran
Succeeded byJackie Speier
Member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
from the 10th district
In office
Preceded byJames Mailliard
Succeeded byJim Gonzalez
Personal details
Born (1928-08-11) August 11, 1928 (age 95)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
SpouseMara Sikaters
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
Military service
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1952–1954
Battles/warsKorean War

Quentin Lewis Kopp (born August 11, 1928) is an American attorney, politician and jurist. 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.

Early life and education[edit]

Kopp was born in 1928 in Syracuse, New York. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1949 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1952.[1]


After graduating from law school, Kopp joined the United States Air Force and was stationed at the McClellan Air Force Base during the Korean War. During his military service, Kopp was assigned to the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations and United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps. After his discharge from the Air Force in 1954, he worked as an attorney for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. He joined Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in 1955 and established his own practice in 1958.[1][2]

San Francisco politics[edit]

Kopp was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1971 and served until 1986, representing the West Portal neighborhood. In 1979, Kopp ran for mayor against Dianne Feinstein, but lost in a runoff election. This election also featured Jello Biafra (singer for the punk band Dead Kennedys). In 1986, Kopp ran for California State Senate as an independent in a heavily Democratic district straddling southern San Francisco and northern San Mateo counties. Republican distaste for the Democratic nominee (then Assemblyman Lou Papan)[3] led them to financially support Kopp, who went on to win by one percentage point. He won reelection in 1990 and 1994. Term limits prevented Kopp from seeking reelection in 1998. 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.

California State Senate[edit]

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.[4] 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[edit]

Kopp served as a member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). As chairman, he 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). 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.

On January 28, 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 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 March 5, 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.[5][6]

Later life[edit]

Interstate 380 in San Mateo County, a short, urban freeway connector, was renamed the Quentin L. Kopp Freeway in 1998.[7] The road was previously named the Portola Freeway by California's State Legislature, indirectly after Gaspar de Portolà.[8] In February 2016, Kopp sent a letter to NPR correspondent Tamara Keith, in which he described greetings exchanged between herself and fellow NPR host Audie Cornish as reminiscent of a "moronic schoolgirl". Keith posted two photos of the letter on her Twitter on March 8, 2016.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Judge Quentin Kopp for San Mateo County Superior Court in California". Trellis. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  2. ^ Judiciary, United States Congress Senate Committee on the (1990). Confirmation Hearings on Federal Appointments: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred First Congress, First Session, on Confirmation Hearings on Appointments to the Federal Judiciary ... U.S. Government Printing Office.
  3. ^ California Journal Vol. XXI, No.5 (May 1990) "Complete District-by-district Analysis". StateNet Publications, May 1990.
  4. ^ "EXTENSIon's HISTORY FULL OF OBSTACLES / BART tracks overcame bickerin…". Archived from the original on 5 August 2011.
  5. ^ Richard Tolmach (April 2009). "Kopp in Firestorm with SF over projects letter" (PDF). Train Riders' Association of California. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-08.
  6. ^ "Quentin Kopp, no longer on board this bullet train". Los Angeles Times. 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  7. ^ California State Transportation Agency (2014). "2014 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California" (PDF). CalTrans. California Department of Transportation. pages 90, 243. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2015.
  8. ^ California State Transportation Agency (2014). "2014 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California" (PDF). CalTrans. California Department of Transportation. pages 90, 267. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2015.
  9. ^ Janiak, Lily. "Quentin Kopp writes angry letters to journalists, so naturally I wanted to meet him". Datebook | San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2022-05-10.

Further reading[edit]

  • Milk, Harvey (2012). The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words, Vince Emery Productions. ISBN 978-0-9725898-8-8
  • Roberts, Jerry (1994). Dianne Feinstein: Never Let Them See You Cry, Harpercollins. ISBN 0-06-258508-8
  • Weiss, Mike (2010). Double Play: The Hidden Passions Behind the Double Assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk, Vince Emery Productions. ISBN 978-0-9825650-5-6

External links[edit]