San Francisco, CA, Muncipal Code

Updated March 2020


Table of Contents

Affordable Housing Programs

The city’s codified ordinances lay out a comprehensive affordable housing program. Chapter 41B outlines a process that gives qualified nonprofits in the community the right of first refusal when a multi-family residential building goes on the market. Chapter 47 describes that residents who have been or are about to be displaced from their neighborhoods are given preference in qualifying for affordable housing. Chapter 60 reviews the city’s efforts to preserve existing affordable housing and addresses the process for complying with required relocation assistance. Chapter 109 discusses the expedited review given to 100% affordable housing projects and Chapter 120 describes how affordable housing funds are administered. §416, §417, and §424 discuss the affordable housing requirements associated with specific subarea plans: the Market and Octavia Area Plan and Upper Market Neighborhood Commercial District, the Eastern Neighborhoods Area Plan, and the Van Ness and Market Residential Special Use District.

Creative Placemaking

The city’s administrative code supports a variety of creative placemaking efforts through a music and culture ordinance. It calls for cultural event space to be preserved and enhanced, encourages the development of affordable housing for artists, and supports educational programs for students (§90A.1). It enables the planning commission to make amendments to the general plan that support the music and culture sustainability policy through a district element or through existing elements of the plan (§90A.6).

Green Building

The city’s code of ordinances adopts the California Green Buildings Standards Code with amendments. It requires major renovations to provide electric vehicle charging stations at on-site parking (§4.106.4§ 

Small Wireless Facilities and Wireless Facilities in the ROW

The city's Public Works code establishes a detailed and robust permitting process for personal wireless service facilities in the public right-of-way (§1514 et seq.). The code establishes three tiers of PWSFs: Tier A for proposals for Unprotected locations, Tier B for proposals for Planning Protected or Zoning Protected Locations (historic or architecturally significant, landmarks, significant or important views, residential or neighborhood commercial districts), and Tier C for Park Protected locations (adjacent to a park). Applications require approval from the department of public health, as well as the planning or recreation and park departments based on tier category. The code provides detailed review, notice, and protest requirements, and addresses modification and removal of equipment.

Short-Term Residential Rentals

The city’s administrative code addresses short-term residential rentals (Chapter 41A).

The chapter includes a statement of findings (§41A.3) and a comprehensive definitions section (§41A.4). Regulations address conditions and requirements for offering a primary residence as a short-term residential rental, including registration in the city’s Short-Term Residential Rental Registry, as well as requirements for hosting platforms (§41A.5). Detailed administrative enforcement provisions are provided (§41A.6).

The code also establishes the city’s Office of Short-Term Residential Rentals and lays out its administration and enforcement duties (§41A.7).

Solar Energy

The city's Environment Code includes green building regulations, which include San Francisco-specific LEED credit requirements for municipal construction projects, one of which is for renewable energy: municipal projects must include space allocation and infrastructure for future renewable energy installations, and at least 1% of building energy costs must be offset by onsite renewable energy generation, including PV or solar thermal (§706(C)). The city's Planning Code exempts solar and wind energy collection devices along with other rooftop appurtenances from height limits (§260(b)(1)(A)). It also includes a section of Planning Interpretations, one of which addresses solar panels (Code Section: 260(b)(1)(A)), concluding that under state law, solar energy system applications must be approved administratively after health and safety reviews, even if the system exceeds height limits or is on an architecturally significant building. The city's Public Works Code includes a Tree Dispute Resolution article that lists the extent to which a tree interferes with preexisting solar energy systems as a consideration in dispute resolution (§16.1.824).

San Francisco, CA

2010 Population: 805,235

2010 Population Density: 17,179.08/square mile