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Bernal Heights Coca-Cola Sign Can Stay, Planning Commission Decides

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Flickr: Telstar Logistics
Flickr: Telstar Logistics

Chalk this one up to another "only in San Francisco" battle, right there alongside nudity on park benches and the height of the Castro's rainbow flag.

The city's Planning Commission voted on Thursday that a historic billboard advertising Coca-Cola can stay right where it is, affixed to the side of a home in Bernal Heights, SFGate reports.

The 15-by-seven foot advertisement, likely created in the 1930s when the building served as a grocery store and uncovered again in 1991 by the property's current owner, drew the ire of anonymous Bernal Heights residents last year, who claimed the sign promoted obesity.

Neighborhood blog Bernalwood first broke the news of the complaint last February:

The antique Coca-Cola ad has been part of the corner of Banks and Tomkins probably since the 1940’s at least. In my 30 years in Bernal, the homeowners have lovingly preserved this little bit of old Bernal—probably the last remnant of a grocery on that corner.

Now the City is apparently citing them for an unauthorized billboard. Note that the Planning Department documents say the homeowners must pay $3400 just to appeal the decision.

Because nothing lights a fire under a San Franciscan quite like a neighborhood issue, a lively debate ensued. "This is a historical part of our neighborhood. It’s a way for people to connect to the past,” Todd Lappin, a Bernal Heights resident, told the San Francisco Examiner at the time.

It's only taken a mere 12 months, but the owner of the sign, Richard Modolo, finally received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission Thursday for his conditional use permit. And thus a piece of history shall remain.

Take that, NIMBYs.

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Filed by Carly Schwartz