The company is currently being rebranded by new owner Elon Musk, and the sign was part of that effort. However, the city claims that the sign was installed without their permission, which led to an investigation by authorities.
A spokesman for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, Patrick Hannan, said that replacement signage needs to obtain a permit in order to insure its “consistency with the historic nature of the building” and guarantee it has been attached safely to the building. The department reported that it had received two dozen complaints about the sign over the weekend, including concerns about its safety.
He said X will be responsible for all the expenses related to the incident, noting: "The property owner will be assessed fees for the unpermitted installation of the illuminated structure." He added that they will be charged for the costs of the investigation as well.
The building, which is situated in the city's downtown area on Market Street, is just a few blocks from city hall and directly across from an apartment building. Numerous residents complained about the light, which is not only a very bright white but also flashes.
One area resident, 78-year-old Jerry Royer, told the San Francisco Standard: “It's blindingly white, right? And the sign flashes on and off, in all kinds of patterns like strobe lights. It's incredibly bad."
Investigators had originally visited the site on Friday shortly after the sign was erected to inform them they were violating building codes. They asked to go up on the roof to inspect it for safety, but a Twitter representative did not allow them to pass and claimed it was a “temporary lighted sign for an event.” Another attempt to gain access on Saturday was denied as well.
In addition, X’s lease expressly bans rooftop and exterior signs beyond the longstanding blade "Twitter" sign that was already installed on the building, specifying that the company must get permission from the landlord if it wishes to modify the original sign.
Last week, authorities temporarily stopped workers from removing the Twitter blade sign with its blue bird logo from the side of the building on the grounds that the company had not obtained the required permits and failed to close the street to protect pedestrians from falling objects. This resulted in the “er” of “Twitter” awkwardly remaining up for a time.
Although the sign admittedly seems like a nuisance for neighbors, it’s interesting that San Francisco acted so swiftly and authoritatively in dismantling a sign put up by a company whose owner has been vocal about challenging wokeness and exposing government censorship on social media when it is dealing with so many more pressing issues that are wreaking havoc on the city.
What was once a picturesque and charming city that attracted droves of tourists has become a place many avoid thanks to rampant homelessness, open drug use on street corners, and streets littered with human excrement. This poses far more of a danger to city residents than a sign that was erected without a permit.
San Francisco was also hit by a recent raft of store closures, with the city losing half of its downtown stores since the start of the pandemic in 2019. Some of the big names to exit the crime-ridden city include Ray Ban, Old Navy, Brooks Brothers, H&M, Gap, Nordstrom, Lululemon, Anthropologie and Christian Louboutin. Some of the stores that have remained open, like Target, have taken to locking up their full stock behind glass to protect goods from shoplifters.
Despite this mass exodus, Musk has promised to keep X in San Francisco, even after receiving attractive offers to move it elsewhere. He tweeted: “You only know who your real friends are when the chips are down. San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, though others forsake you, we will always be your friend.”
Sources for this article include: