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Flashing “X” installed on top of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco – without a permit from the city

Bright ‘X’ sign at the former Twitter HQ concerns neighbors

Bright ‘X’ sign at the former Twitter HQ concerns neighbors


“X” really does mark the spot – for a city investigation. The company formerly known as Twitter has rebranded to the letter, placing a massive light-up “X” on top of their San Francisco headquarters, apparently without a permit. 

The long-standing sign identifying the headquarters as Twitter came down last week as Elon Musk announced the social media site has officially rebranded to “X.” The site’s parent company had already been renamed to X Corporation as Musk said he wants to create “the everything app.” 

“The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like birds tweeting – but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video,” Musk said. “In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world.” 

But the new sign at the company’s San Fransico headquarters wasn’t exactly installed up to code, according to the city. 

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection launched a complaint against the company on Friday, saying the sign had been installed without a permit. The city agency said that an inspector “spoke with Tweeter [sic] representatives and Building maintenance engineer representatives,” who declined access to the sign but said that it’s “a temporary lighted sign for an event.” 

The city inspector said they explained to the company representatives that the structure had to be taken down or legalized to be allowed to remain up. 

The inspector returned to the site on Saturday in an attempt to regain access to the sign. 

“However, upon arrival access was denied again by the tenant,” the city complaint says. 

It’s not just city officials who have an issue with the new sign. 

Video from San Francisco resident and digital journalist Christopher Beale shows the lights in the sign pulsing brightly across the street of his home, saying, “this is my life now.” At another point, the lights of the giant “X” were seen strobing

“It’s hard to describe how bright it made this intersection,” he said in a video shared by CBS News Bay Area reporter Betty Yu. “But it’s way up off the street and it’s still just like a flash of lightning going off. We came home and tried to watch a movie and it was flashing through this window so bright that even with the shades down, it was so distracting that we had to leave the room and go to the side of the apartment that doesn’t face their building.” 

Patricia Wallinga, who also lives across the street from the sign, said she thought the lights were “lightning” or a “police siren.” 

“I was very confused,” she told CBS News Bay Area. “…This building, it’s largely rent controlled. There are a lot of seniors who live there, I’m sure, I’m absolutely sure that this is a danger especially to them. … It’s such a clown show.”

Normally buildings are given notice of a permit application for such things and have the ability to approve or reject it, said George Wolf, an attorney who specializes in construction law. 

“Somebody could file a lawsuit over it as public nuisance,” he said. “I think it’s very, very reckless to do things this way. Most people abide by the law, I’m sure there’s exceptions for entrepreneurs. It just sounds like it’s just his normal means of doing business. Break things and try and fix them later.”   

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