Bernal Heights “vintage” Coca-Cola sign to be restored

A once-threatened vintage Coca-Cola billboard painted on the side of a Bernal Heights home was cleared for restoration Thursday by The City’s Planning Commission.

The 15-by-7-foot 1930s-era sign — featuring the soft drink’s logo and a silhouetted woman drinking from a glass bottle — became the subject of debate last year when a local resident complained to the commission that it violated San Francisco’s billboard regulations.

Supporters of painting over the sign appeared to take issue with the corporate aspects of Coca-Cola. Other residents retorted the sign should not be subject to the rules, since it is a piece of historic commercial art.

The semantics of what to call such era-specific advertising was hotly debated during a commission meeting in June, when Supervisor David Campos expressed his
desire to create a category setting it apart from generic public

The commission settled on calling such signs “vintage” after considering “historic,” “commemorative” and “special.” “Historic” was considered too strong, given protections provided to well-known local landmarks. Thursday’s approval included no discussion of the item.

In August, work crews demolishing the Bayview Library uncovered an early 1920s Boss of the Road Overalls sign on a wall, although plans call for it to be covered by a rebuilt facility.

In 2006, the Planning Department began enforcing billboard regulations after voters’ 2002 approval of Proposition G, which banned new billboards in The City.

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