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Historic Coca-Cola billboard can stay

In a lengthy attempt to save a little piece of San Francisco history, a vintage Bernal Heights Coca-Cola billboard was cleared for restoration this week by The City’s Planning Commission.

You may have noticed the iconic billboard painted on the side of Richard Modolo’s Bernal Heights home at Banks and Tompkins. The 15-by-7-foot, 1930s-era sign features a Coca-Cola logo and a silhouetted woman drinking from a glass bottle.

Last year, the sign came under the chopping block when, in typical NIMBY fashion, a local resident complained to the Planning Commission that it violated The City’s strict anti-billboard laws.

The property used to be a corner store called Tipton’s Grocery until roughly the late 1960s, according to Burrito Justice.

Evidence was brought forth to show that the iconic sign was in place prior to 1965, when The City’s operative sign ordinances were put in place. It was determined the billboard was, in fact, old enough, and, therefore, could remain on the side of Modolo’s house.

Bernalwood says the roughly 80-year-old sign survived for so long because a it was covered with asbestos siding in the 50s that allowed the painted sign to be preserved. When Modolo removed the siding in 1991, the sign’s vibrant red, yellow, and white paint appeared to be in mint condition.

Late last year Modolo applied for a conditional use permit so he could officially keep and maintain the vintage sign. The final step in the process involved this week’s hearing and approval of the permit.

Sign opponents claimed that the advertisement promoting a sugary drink sends a negative message to kids at the elementary school across the street. However, supporters argued that it should be preserved as part of the neighborhood’s past and a piece of historic commercial art.

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