City of San Francisco Upset About a 70-Year-Old Billboard

I don't know if everyone has been following the epic NIMBY battle going on in Bernal Heights over the historic Coca Cola billboard, but it's good stuff.  To recap: a lone hater neighbor complained to the city that this 'corporate billboard' violated the city's strict laws against billboards, the city agreed and demanded the owner of the building paint over it.  After some neighborhood outrage, the city backtracked and said if the owner of the building could prove that the billboard was put up prior to 1965, it could stay as it would be deemed “historic” and would be grandfathered into the pool of legal billboards.  Some sleuthing by Bernalwood and Burrito Justice proved that the mural, which has been maintained by the building owner since 1991 (hence looking fresh), was originally painted in the late 1930's or early 40s.

Crisis adverted, right? Nope.  After proving the billboard met the city's requirement, the city's sign expert told the Chronicle, “But the law is totally nondiscretionary. This is a residential district and an unpermitted general advertising sign.”  Really?  What about that whole 1965 nonsense?  Basically, the city was just “lol jk!” about that and will require it be either painted over or that Supervisor David Campos introduce legislation to make a “special sign district,” legislation that would have to be “reviewed by the Planning Commission, the board's Land Use Committee, the Board of Supervisors and, quite possibly, the Historic Preservation Commission.”  Seems like a whole lot of bullshit for a harmless sign that has been visible for decades….

The Chronicle called up Supervisor Campos to see what he thought:

Campos is still mulling the issue.

We haven’t really taken a position either way,” Campos said. “We want to hear more from the neighborhood.”

He said he’s already received a handful of passionate e-mails from both sides.

We’re trying to fight childhood obesity,” he said. “We don’t want to promote kids drinking Coca-Cola.”


(Read more about the drama at Bernalwoodphoto by Troy Holden)