Westside Parkway could not be called the "CSU Bakersfield Alumna Wendy Wayne Parkway" until 2017 city officials said Monday, and a CSUB spokeswoman announced an online petition seeking its renaming will be deactivated.
A city resolution requires a five-year wait from someone's death before renaming a street or highway in memoriam. Wayne died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in June 2012 at age 64.
"We realize now that we were too early in introducing the petition," CSUB spokeswoman Colleen Dillaway said via email. "Once Caltrans assumes the highway we will then determine how best to move forward in the spirit of honoring this wonderful woman who touched the lives of so many."
Wayne, who earned her nursing degree from CSUB, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa; nurse, Kern County planning commissioner, co-founder and director of the Community Connection for Child Care, and executive director of First 5 Kern.
Dillaway's announcement came as state and national elected officials distanced themselves from the petition to Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, announced Wednesday in an email from CSUB President Horace Mitchell. More than 180 people signed it in five days.
Wayne's husband said last week that Mitchell had secured the support of the assemblywoman and Congressman Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.
But Grove's office said in a statement the assemblywoman "was only made aware of the CSUB plan to promote the renaming effort" and had no position on it.
A spokesman for McCarthy said in an email that the congressman "has not been asked about this."
Dillaway said via email that there had been a "miscommunication" regarding Grove's support.
It's also increasingly clear that renaming a city or state highway in honor of someone who has died is not an easy task.
City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said a 2004 resolution approved by the Bakersfield City Council controls the naming of city streets and highway segments.
It requires a wait of "no less than five years" before the city could rename the Parkway for Wayne.
If the city had changed the name of the freeway segment, officials estimate it would have cost more than $50,000 -- and Bakersfield doesn't plan on being in the Westside Parkway business forever.
The city intends to transfer its control of Westside Parkway to Caltrans in two-and-a-half to three years, after approval of the Environmental Impact Report for Centennial Corridor, the controversial link between it and Highway 58.
Caltrans follows state rules on renaming highways and interchanges after people who have died.
California requires a state senator or assembly district representative to carry a bill renaming a highway segment in memorial, and once legislation is approved that name only applies to a two-mile stretch of the highway, according to John Liu, Caltrans deputy director of maintenance and operations for District 6, which includes Bakersfield.
"It's just very, very rare for a local agency to build a freeway and Caltrans to take it over," Liu said. "This may not have ever happened before."