The rebrand of Twitter to X has been glaringly obvious to some San Francisco residents.
Resident and KQED journalist Christopher Beale captured the X sign strobing into his living room Friday night in a now viral video on X.
"It's hard to describe how bright it made this intersection, but its way up off the street and it was 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," he said.
The city of San Francisco has opened a complaint and launched an investigation into the sign that was installed late Friday on top of its headquarters.
"I'm all for cool displays and branding and whatever you want to do, but it is just super bright, it's hard to describe," he said. "I feel like if I was a person that was maybe epileptic or had a sensitively to bright lights and strobes it would be a major problem to live here. For now, it's just an irritant."
City officials say erecting a sign on top of a building requires a permit for design and safety reasons. Planning a review and approval are also necessary for the installation.
"I thought it was lightning, and I was very confused. I went to my window, I looked around, I didn't see anything. I thought it was maybe a police siren," said resident Patricia Wallinga, who lives across the street. "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."
Attorney George Wolf who specializes in construction law said typically neighbors are given notice after the permit application is submitted and they would have rights to approve or reject it, even if it complied with codes.
"They can go through the city and complain through the city, the building department or the planning department. And of course, if it really got bad, somebody could file a lawsuit over it as a public nuisance," Wolf said of possible recourse for residents. "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."
Wallinga said she plans to go to the tenants union on Monday to figure out what her rights are.
"It's such a clown show," she said.
Residents who live near the X headquarters say they received no notice or warning of the flashing light installation. It's unclear if the flashes were a one-night or long-term feature.
"Outside of our aggravation of course we started to try and think about what was going on and we saw that they were flying a drone around it, so we were like this is a publicity stunt, across the board, and obviously it appears to be working," said Beale.
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