SAN FRANCISCO (AP).- A restored Coca Cola sign decorating the side of a San Francisco house that may date back to the 1930s has set off a surprising spat among neighborhood residents and city officials.
The city says the bright red painted sign on the side of Richard Modolo's home violates anti-billboard laws and must come down.
City Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Bernal Heights neighborhood, said he's received passionate e-mails from people on both sides of the debate. Some are concerned that the sign promotes a sugary drink, sending a dangerous message to students at a nearby elementary school.
"We're trying to fight childhood obesity," Campos said. "We don't want to promote kids drinking Coca-Cola."
But Campos said he's considering introducing legislation that would create a special "historic sign district" to preserve the 15-by-7-foot sign.
Modolo said he discovered it in 1991 when he removed asbestos siding from his home, which was a grocery store years ago. A friend touched it up and the sign remained.
"It's been this way for 20 years, so I guess it is part of the neighborhood," the 64-year-old Modolo told the San Francisco Chronicle.
But city planners came out to inspect the sign after receiving a complaint last month and deemed it illegal. Modolo was told he could face a daily fine of $100 until it was removed.
The identity of the person who filed the complaint has been redacted from city records.
"I think it is a neat-looking sign," Dan Sider, the city's sign expert, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But the law is totally nondiscretionary. This is a residential district and an unpermitted general advertising sign."
Resident Todd Lappin, who has written about the sign for his neighborhood blog, told the San Francisco Examiner he supports the Coca Cola sign, saying it's a way for people to connect to the neighborhood's working-class past.
"It's vintage commercial art," he said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.