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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Massive Super Bowl Ads Illegal, City Attorney Says

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 1:39 PM

click to enlarge verizon.jpg

Remember that large and rather ill-executed Verizon Super Bowl 50 ad draping the Embarcadero Center near the Ferry Building? And remember how San Francisco's ban on general advertising — which bans new billboards and ads of this exact kind — apparently didn't apply, because the Mayor's Office said so, and because the Super Bowl is a "civic celebration"?

City Attorney Dennis Herrera is evidently not as big a football fan as Mayor Ed Lee. Herrera on Tuesday sent a letter to the owner of the Embarcadero Center, declaring the ad illegal and ordering it removed by 5 p.m. Thursday, the San Francisco Examiner first reported.

A spokesman for the Super Bowl Host Committee told the Examiner that the ads would be taken down immediately — prompting, at least among some circles, a "real" civic celebration, but begging additional questions. Such as: why did Ed Lee say the ads were OK in the first place?

New billboards were banned by voter initiative in 2002. But new billboards have popped up in recent weeks pimping the Super Bowl, including on the Union Square Hilton as well as the Boston Properties-owned Embarcadero Center. (Boston Consulting Group, not affiliated but a partner the Super Bowl Host Committee, coincidentally has its offices next door.)

A spokesman for Herrera declined to comment to SF Weekly, saying that Herrera's letter to the property owners "speaks for itself."

In the meantime, let's remember what Planning Department spokeswoman Gina Simi told Hoodline. Those banners are allowed because they were meant to be temporary. And Planning said it could not enforce the ban anyway, since they'd be taken down before the ban could be enforced.

But again, having the banners there in the first place was approved by the Mayor's Office, which appears to be hellbent on giving the Super Bowl whatever it wants and then refusing to tell us why.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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