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(a) Violations Unlawful. Any use, structure, lot, feature or condition in violation of this Code is hereby found and declared to be unlawful and a public nuisance. Should any permit or license have been issued that was not then in conformity with the provisions of this Code, such permit or license shall be null and void.
(b) Methods of Enforcement. The Zoning Administrator shall have authority to enforce this Code against violations thereof by any of the following actions:
(1) Serving notice requiring the cessation, removal or correction of any violation of this Code upon the owner, agent or tenant of the property that is the subject of the violation, or upon the architect, builder, contractor or other person who commits or assists in such violation;
(2) Calling upon the City Attorney to maintain an action for injunction to restrain or abatement to cause the correction or removal of any such violation, and for assessment and recovery of a civil penalty for such violation as well as any attorneys' fees or costs, including but not limited to expert witness fees, incurred in maintaining such an action;
(3) Calling upon the District Attorney to institute criminal proceedings in enforcement of this Code against any such violation; and
(4) Calling upon the Chief of Police and authorized agents to assist in the enforcement of this Code.
(1) Administrative Penalties. In the notice requiring the cessation, removal or correction of any violation of this Code, the Zoning Administrator may assess upon the responsible party an administrative penalty for each violation in an amount up to $250.00 for each day the violation continues unabated. The "responsible party" is the owner(s) of the real property on which the code violation is located, as listed in the records of the San Francisco Assessor, and the current leaseholder if different from the current owner(s) of the real property.
The responsible party may request a Zoning Administrator's hearing in order to show cause why the notice requiring the cessation, removal or correction of the violation and any assessment of administrative penalties is in error and should be rescinded. The Zoning Administrator may designate a member of Department staff to act as the hearing officer in his or her place. The Department shall send a notice of the date, hour, and place of the hearing to the responsible party at the address specified in the request for hearing and to any member of the public who has expressed an interest in the matter.
The responsible party may also request that the Zoning Administrator terminate abatement proceedings under Section 176 and refer the matter to the Director for enforcement action under the process set forth in Section 176.1 of this Code. If the Zoning Administrator determines that the enforcement case will proceed under Section 176, that determination shall be made as part of the final written decision and is not appealable separately from the decision on the merits.
The responsible party may waive the right to a Zoning Administrator's hearing and proceed directly to an appeal to the Board of Appeals under Section 308.2 of this Code. Administrative penalties shall not accrue during the period of time that the matter is pending before the Zoning Administrator on a request for hearing or before the Board of Appeals on appeal. If the responsible party elects to request a Zoning Administrator's hearing, the request for hearing must be in writing and submitted to the Zoning Administrator prior to the expiration date of the Notice of Violation and Penalty. If a request for a Zoning Administrator's hearing is timely filed, any appeal to the Board of Appeals shall be from the decision of the Zoning Administrator rendered after the hearing.
The Zoning Administrator or the Zoning Administrator's designee, after a full and fair consideration of the evidence and testimony received at the hearing, shall render within thirty days following the conclusion of the hearing a written decision that either rescinds the notice of violation and dismisses the proceedings, upholds the original decision, or modifies the original decision. In rendering a decision, the Zoning Administrator or the Zoning Administrator's designee shall consider:
(A) whether the responsible party was properly identified;
(B) whether the accrual dates for the administrative penalties are accurate;
(C) the amount of documented staff time spent in order to secure abatement of the violation;
(D) the nature of the violation;
(E) the duration of the violation;
(F) efforts made by the responsible party to correct the violation;
(G) the impact of the violation upon the community;
(H) any instance in which the responsible party has been in violation of the same or similar laws at the same or other locations in the City and County of San Francisco;
(I) the responsible party's good faith efforts to comply;
(J) whether the violation is easy to correct; and
(K) such other factors as the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee may consider relevant.
In hearing any appeal of the Zoning Administrator's determination, the Board of Appeals shall consider the above factors. If the Board upholds the Zoning Administrator's decision in whole or in part but reduces the amount of the penalty, it may not reduce the amount of the penalty below $100.00 for each day that the violation exists, excluding the period of time that the matter has been pending either before the Zoning Administrator on a request for hearing or before the Board of Appeals on appeal.
In addition to any administrative penalties imposed under this subsection (c)(1), the Zoning Administrator may recover any attorneys fees and costs, including but not limited to expert witness fees, incurred by the City in pursuing administrative remedies. The provision of administrative penalties is not intended to be punitive in nature but is intended to secure compliance with the Planning Code and to compensate the City for its costs of enforcement.
(2) Civil Penalties. Any individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association, society, group or other person or legal entity that violates any provision of this Code shall be liable for the City's costs of enforcement and a civil penalty, of not less than $200.00 for each day such violation is committed or permitted to continue, which penalty shall be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the City and County of San Francisco by the City Attorney in any court of competent jurisdiction. The City Attorney may seek recovery of any attorneys' fees and costs, including but not limited to expert witness fees, incurred by the City in bringing such civil action. For civil actions to enforce Municipal Code provisions related to general advertising signs, the penalties, attorneys' fees and costs set forth in this Section 176 shall be in addition to those authorized by Section 610 of this Code.
(3) Criminal Penalties. Any individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association, society, group or other person or legal entity that violates any provision of this Code shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in an amount not less than $200.00 or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months or be both so fined and imprisoned. Each day such violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such hereunder.
(4) Planning Code Enforcement Fund. Any fees and penalties collected pursuant to this Section 176 shall be deposited in the Planning Code Enforcement Fund established by Administrative Code Section 10.100-166. The Planning Department, through the Planning Code Enforcement Fund, shall reimburse City departments and agencies, including the City Attorney's Office, for all costs and fees incurred in the enforcement of this Section 176.
(d) Additional Methods of Enforcement and Penalties for Violation of Sign Regulations. Violation of the general advertising sign regulations set forth in Article 6 are subject to the administrative penalties and enforcement procedures set forth in Section 610 of this Code, in addition to those set forth in this Section 176.
(f) Remedies under this Section 176 are non-exclusive, and, notwithstanding subsection (b)(2), the City Attorney may at any time institute civil proceedings for injunctive and monetary relief, including civil penalties, against any person for violations of the Planning Code, without regard to whether the Zoning Administrator has issued a notice of violation, instituted abatement proceedings, scheduled or held a hearing on a notice of violation, or issued a final decision. For proceedings instituted under this subsection (f), the City Attorney shall notify the Zoning Administrator or the Planning Director, as appropriate, and collaborate, where mutually desired, on the prosecution of the action. The City Attorney may seek recovery of any attorneys fees and costs, including but not limited to expert witness fees, incurred by the City in bringing a proceedings under this subsection (f).
(Added by Ord. 443-78, App. 10/6/78; amended by Ord. 71-01, File No. 001391, App. 5/18/2001; Ord. 46-07, File No. 061539, App. 3/9/2007; Ord. 57-08, File No. 071651, App. 4/10/2008; Ord. 56-13 , File No. 130062, App. 3/28/2013, Eff. 4/27/2013; Ord. 60-16 , File No. 151085, App. 4/27/2016, Eff. 5/27/2016, Oper. 6/1/2016)