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Twitter blocks city from accessing X sign atop headquarters

The new ‘X’ logo is seen being installed on top of the Twitter headquarters on the corner of Market and 10th streets in San Francisco on Friday July 28, 2023. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

The latest drama at the company formerly known as Twitter saw escalating complaints from neighbors about the new giant illuminated X sign atop the company's San Francisco headquarters. Meanwhile, the social media giant has refused to allow access to a buildings inspector, according to city records.

The massive X appeared on the roof of Elon Musk's recently rebranded company at 10th and Market streets on Friday in place of the iconic vertical Twitter sign after The Standard saw workers dismantling it. Police showed up while the work was underway, and the city issued a violation notice for installing a possibly unsafe sign without a permit, according to complaints records on the Department of Buildings Inspection website.

On Friday night, the X sign was illuminated, blasting flashing white light into the windows of nearby buildings for several hours and eliciting shock and displeasure from residents.

"Imagine this fucking X sign right across from your bedroom," one posted.

From his apartment on the 27th floor of the Fox Plaza building across the street, Jerry Royer, 78, has an all-too-clear view of the X sign, which he called "monstrous."

"It's blindingly white, right? And the sign flashes on and off, in all kinds of patterns like strobe lights," said Royer, who has lived there for 52 years. "It's incredibly bad."

Royer told The Standard Sunday afternoon that he and other residents have reached out to San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey's office hoping to get the sign taken down.

"You really don't realize how big it is until you see a human next to it," he said. "It's truly gigantic."

According to city records, a city inspector received a complaint about a "structure on roof without permit" and visited the building after obtaining a notice of violation. 

The inspector spoke with company and building maintenance representatives Friday, but when the city worker tried to get access, they were denied, according to the complaint tracker. The worker was told "that the structure is a temporary lighted sign for an event." A second attempt was made Saturday to access the sign but "access was denied again by tenant."

X owner Elon Musk meanwhile used his platform to share images and video of the sign and to promise the company would stay headquartered in San Francisco.

"Many have offered rich incentives for X (fka Twitter) to move its HQ out of San Francisco. Moreover, the city is in a doom spiral with one company after another left or leaving," Musk said Saturday. "Therefore, they expect X will move too. We will not. You only know who your real friends are when the chips are down. San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, though others forsake you, we will always be your friend."

Contacted Sunday, a spokesperson for the social media platform repeated that it would respond to requests for comment soon. City buildings officials did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

George Kelly can be reached at