During the fall of 2006, Addington says he saw a sign from above in the midst of a dispute with Bill Graham Presents (now Live Nation), his Clear Channel–owned tenant at the Warfield. BGP, which had a promotional deal with SF Weekly, put the paper's name on the theater's marquee. Addington successfully sued to have SF Weekly's name removed. During the lawsuit, Addington says he realized that signage rights might represent an untapped resource for turning around his downtrodden neighborhood.

He got a ballot initiative drawn up, collected signatures, hired publicists, and became the public face of Proposition D. He believes the visual appeal of a Times Square of computer-synchronized, high-resolution LED signs will lure advertisers to invest in the neighborhood, drawing pedestrians to see the signs. He says the measure has already caught the fancy of big hotel investors from back East. "I talk with restaurateurs, retailers, and hoteliers every day," he said. "They are all interested in coming to this neighborhood with the passage of Proposition D."

Addington's proposal has provoked vigorous opposition from antidevelopment groups such as San Francisco Beautiful and the South of Market Community Action Network. These same groups have opposed development either in the name of antigentrification or preservation — thereby killing jobs, driving up the cost of living, and preserving blight such as that found in mid-Market. That Addington has earned contemptible enemies almost tempts me to support Proposition D. But I just can't get over the idea that he is pushing this ballot measure as a way to recoup his losses (both 1028 Market and the office space next to the Warfield have been without paying tenants for years).

Ordinarily, I wouldn't particularly mind if Market Street became the site of new billboards. But I'd hate it if the bright lights served to remind me that San Franciscans had let a carpetbagger take us for rubes.

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