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Residents First! Home Page > SF Sign Clutter

[75H & 500 Folsom] [75H & 500 Folsom]
Storefront sign clutter is an old problem creeping back. Some areas of San Francisco are being inundated. About 50 years ago, many cities (including SF) took on the problem of excessive sign clutter above our sidewalks. And they won! Merchant's big, two-sided blade signs hanging out over sidewalks were pretty much eliminated, or at least not approved anymore. (Look at how Powell Street was transformed--right.) Unfortunately, many people have never seen the problem (or have forgotten about it), and the eyesores are creeping back.

Our ongoing research demonstrates how the problem is slowly returning:

[75H & 500 Folsom] City legislation --
Supervisors Stefani and Chan have introduced legislation to allow large signs (all over town) on awnings in addition to stores' existing signs. (See how the term "awnings" can be abused just to create larger signs.) In some neighborhoods, these additional signs would be as big as 40-square-feet (5' x 8'). This could mean many additional signs per block with 5-foot-high lettering. (Imagine a new sign with 5' lettering reading "MASSAGE." This legis is scheduled to be heard at the Planning Commission on October 7, 2021. Please mark your calendars and speak out against this regressive legislation that would have a major negative impact on our streetscapes all over town.
Link to the Stefani legislation:
Official digest of Stefani legislation:

[75H & 500 Folsom] Unlimited marketing signs --
Four large marketing signs recently appeared on the luxury condo building at 75 Howard facing the Embarcadero. They are about 25 feet long. One reads "Move-in this summer." According to enforcement officials at the planning department, buildings can now install "temporary" marketing signs as big as 200-square-feet (eg: 20' long and 10' high). Unfortunately, they can install all the 200 square-foot signs they want. There is no limit on the number of signs and, at 75 Howard, two of the four are adjacent forming one long sign wrapping around a very visible corner of the building.

[75H & 500 Folsom] Signs on historic Rincon Annex --
Amazingly, two 25-foot-high double-sided blade signs were installed on the exterior of the historic streamline moderne Rincon Annex on Mission Street. (Notice how big one is compared to the pedestrian.) Located near the Embarcadero, the former post office was designed by the architect of the Ahwahnee Hotel. Allowing two huge blade signs was bad enough, but permitting them on the historic building makes this a double planning atrocity. According to a recent enforcement review, "a preservation planner approved this permit over-the-counter." The corporate owners presently have seven applications pending for 13 new signs. They are now under review by a senior preservation planner (as of 8-27-21).

Ordinance # 179-18 --
[75H & 500 Folsom] The board of supervisors unanimously passed ordinance # 179-18 from the mayor's office on July 10, 2018. It primarily addressed affordable housing issues. Unfortunately, page 71 of the 75-page ordinance loosened the approval process for signs on historic buildings. There is some indication that supervisors didn't notice the section on signs. This needs to be corrected by the board. The approval process for installing signs on historic buildings was not that onerous, and it needs to be a thoughtful process. According to planning department officials, this clause in this ordinance was designed to "streamline" the approval process even more. This can only mean more sign atrocities.
Link to official copy of Ordinance 179-18:

More signs in general --
In addition to the examples cited above allowing marketing signs and signs on awnings and historic buildings, city hall is clearly allowing more, and larger, signs in general. This pic shows new signs on Spear Street. Soma Eats was recently allowed to replace their sign with a larger one. We believe there is a concerted effort, through the mayor's office, to loosen our city's long-standing and effective sign regulations all over town. This piecemeal campaign must stop.

Notice the three levels of signs in the shot from 1970 (Warren's, Donuts & 7up) and the two "awnings" (which are really just large signs).

[75H & 500 Folsom]

[75H & 500 Folsom]

[75H & 500 Folsom]

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