Supervisor David Campos Unsure If Historic Mural is Worth Saving

First, the good news: The effort to save Bernal’s historic Coca-Cola mural is gaining widespread media attention, spreading from this blog, to the SF Examiner, to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now the bad news: Supervisor David Campos is apparently unsure if the Coca-Cola mural is worth saving. Dozens of Bernal residents have told us that the mural generates a tangible sense of joy and connection to the neighborhood. But Supervisor Campos says he’s worried about the theoretical risk that a 70 year-old mural might encourage childhood obesity. Or something. (Why am I experiencing such an unpleasant sense of deja vu?)

From today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Campos is still mulling the issue.

“We haven’t really taken a position either way,” Campos said. “We want to hear more from the neighborhood.”

He said he’s already received a handful of passionate e-mails from both sides.

“We’re trying to fight childhood obesity,” he said. “We don’t want to promote kids drinking Coca-Cola.”

Campos will need to make a decision quickly.

Indeed he will. Because while he mulls, the clock is ticking, and the City Planning Department continues to demonstrate an unsettling myopia about the mural. Both the letter and the spirit of the law are obviously open to interpretation in a scenario like this, yet such subtleties are lost on the City’s zealous apparatchiks — history, context, common sense, and neighborhood sentiment be damned.

Campos, meanwhile, says he needs more time to lick his finger, point it in the air, and take the measure of the political winds.

That suggests he needs you to offer guidance, fellow citizen. Campos told the Chron that he wants to “hear more from the neighborhood.” So why not deliver some of the clarity that he finds so elusive? Supervisor Campos can be reached here:

Voice: (415) 554-5144

One final note: Bernalwood attempted to contact Supervisor Campos last week, but our email to him received no reply. However, if Supervisor Campos feels that he was misrepresented in the Chronicle, or if he would like to clarify the record regarding his position on the historic Coca-Cola mural, Bernalwood would be pleased to publish his statement in full. Our email is bernalwood at gmail dot com, and operators are standing by.

Photo: Supervisor Campos

14 thoughts on “Supervisor David Campos Unsure If Historic Mural is Worth Saving

  1. I’m confused. I thought a previous post stated the sign would be allowed to stay if it was proven to exist before 1965. Why is that no longer true and now a special district needs to be created if the sign is to be saved?

  2. I called them yesterday to support the mural. I am surprised this is up to Campos when the age and history of the mural has already been demonstrated.

  3. Not to be a big meanie about it, but does the sign really need to be saved just because it’s old? I mean, it’s an OK looking sign and all, but it’s not exactly the Last Supper, and it is promoting sugar water from a huge multinational conglomerate. Not everything old is necessarily awesome.

    • It doesn’t NEED to be saved, but it doesn’t need to be removed, either. The sign’s been here a lot longer than many people, in visible form or not, I don’t think “but soda/corporations/walls are bad!” is reason enough for it to go away.

  4. Here’s what I wrote to my supervisor:

    Just a short, friendly note to urge supervisor Campos to help save the mural at 601 Tompkins Avenue.

    I have been following the story on the BernalWood and Burrito Justice blogs, as well as the follow-up articles in the media. I’ve been so touched by the development of the story that I’ve been sharing the tale with all my friends and neighbors. I think the whole story is rather inspiring. The way the issue came to the attention of neighbors, was publicized using very grass-roots, local web media. The way the history of this little corner of my neighborhood has been researched by interested volunteers and brought to life – with really touching input from past and current neighbors who recall the store and the mural fondly.

    I’ve lived in Bernal Heights for 21 years now. It is this kind of neighborly sharing, community and sense of place that makes our little village so special.

    The mural is history. It is art. It is a small slice of a nearly vanished heritage of the early days of our community. I can scarcely believe anyone would object to it, or fail to see why the well-intentioned rules against commercial advertisements should not be applied to this unique vestige of our shared past.

    To make a rather strained analogy, vintage cars are terrible pollution sources. They really were killing us all with noxious pollutants. Yet we make an exception for classic cars. We love them. They bring us joy and kindle warm memories of our past. But by the cold logic of pollution control laws they should be destroyed. Thankfully we as a society know to make an exception for them. The same sort of historic preservation exception should be made for this mural.

    I hope the supervisor comes to appreciate this mural and its touching story.

    KC Jones
    348 Winfield Street,

  5. @whir, the sign is part of our neighborhood, and there is no reason for it to be removed. I think very few people that live around this sign see it as an advertisement for a sugary drink sold by a megacorporation. It is just a piece of nostalgia that does not need to be removed. Bernal Heights is a unique and nice neighborhood for many reasons including that it retains links to its past, like this sign.

    • Thanks for this. A thought about your word choice. Do you think it’s about nostalgia, really?

      I suppose for some, perhaps. But I’d never even seen the sign until last week, and I don’t care a snot about Coke. My hunch is that for a lot of neighborhood residents, the appeal of the sign lies in the story it tells about the neighborhood as it was. Actually, because it’s such a decontextualize fragment of a story unto itself, the sign hints at a story, so it asks us to fill in the blanks ourselves. So, for example, that’s how so many of us have come to learn about Tipton’s Grocery, which was a neighborhood institution for 30 years. Without the sign, that memory would basically be gone without a trace. So the sign is not so much about nostalgia, perhaps, but about a sense of continuity that persists despite all the other changes that have taken place through the decades.

  6. Emailed to Campos’ office today.

    Dear David,

    I urge you to get involved and help preserve the vintage Coca-Cola sign on Tompkins in Bernal Heights. Small, personal, historic features are what makes a neighborhood distinctive and unique. The documentation is clear-cut that this is a historic feature that has been on the building since at least the 1940s. I cannot regard it as advertising in that no compensation is changing hands between the Coca-Cola company and the family that owns the building.

    We personally know the Modolos. Their daughter has baby-sat for our son. They have introduced us to many of the youth programs available here, including activities at the Garfield, Balboa and King pools.

    Richard grew up in Bernal Heights and has been a pillar on the community long before the gentrification trend of the past 20 years. The family has owned and maintained several properties here for many years. These are exactly the type of people you want to be an involved, positive, influence in the neighborhood.

    I look forward to you letting me know what you plan to do regarding this issue.

    Best Regards,

  7. FWIW, Campos was a supporter of the ballot initiative that would have put huge ass digital billboards on top of buildings at mid-Market. So for him to suddenly be squeamish about a 60-year-old Coke sign is a little much.

    Also, if the NIMBY bastards kill this sign, are they also going to force homeowners to replace the “LIPTON” glass panels you see on converted corner stores throughout Bernal and Noe?

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