Skip to code content (skip section selection)
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this Section 311 is to establish procedures for reviewing building permit applications to determine compatibility of the proposal with the neighborhood and for providing notice to property owners and residents on the site and neighboring the site of the proposed project and to interested neighborhood organizations, so that concerns about a project may be identified and resolved during the review of the permit.
(b) Applicability. Except as indicated herein, all building permit applications in Residential, NC, NCT, and Eastern Neighborhoods Mixed Use Districts for a change of use; establishment of a Micro Wireless Telecommunications Services Facility; establishment of a Formula Retail Use; demolition, new construction, or alteration of buildings; and the removal of an authorized or unauthorized residential unit, shall be subject to the notification and review procedures required by this Section 311. In addition, all building permit applications that would establish Cannabis Retail or Medical Cannabis Dispensary uses, regardless of zoning district, shall be subject to the review procedures required by this Section 311. Notwithstanding the foregoing or any other requirement of this Section 311, a change of use to a Child Care Facility, as defined in Section 102, shall not be subject to the review requirements of this Section 311. Notwithstanding the foregoing or any other requirement of this Section 311, building permit applications to construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit pursuant to Section 207(c)(6) shall not be subject to the notification or review requirements of this Section 311. Notwithstanding the foregoing or any other requirement of this Section 311, a change of use to a principally permitted use in an NC or NCT District, or in a limited commercial use or a limited corner commercial use, as defined in Sections 186 and 231, respectively, shall not be subject to the review or notice requirements of this Section 311.
(1) Change of Use. For purposes of this Section 311, a change of use is defined as follows:
(A) Residential, NC, and NCT Districts. For all Residential, NC, and NCT Districts, a change of use is defined as a change to, or the addition of, any of the following land uses as defined in Section 102 of this Code: Adult Business, Bar, Cannabis Retail, General Entertainment, Group Housing, Limited Restaurant, Liquor Store, Massage Establishment, Medical Cannabis Dispensary, Nighttime Entertainment, Outdoor Activity Area, Post-Secondary Educational Institution, Private Community Facility, Public Community Facility, Religious Institution, Residential Care Facility, Restaurant, School, Tobacco Paraphernalia Establishment, Trade School, and Wireless Telecommunications Facility. A change of use from a Restaurant to a Limited-Restaurant shall not be subject to the provisions of this Section 311. Any accessory massage use in the Ocean Avenue Neighborhood Commercial Transit District shall be subject to the provisions of this Section 311. A change of use to a principally permitted use in an NC or NCT District, or in a limited commercial use or a limited corner commercial use, as defined in Sections 186 and 231, respectively, shall not be subject to the provisions of this Section 311.
(i) Exception. Notwithstanding subsection 311(b)(1)(A), in the geographic areas identified in subsection 311(b)(1)(A)(ii), building permit applications for a change of use to the following uses shall be excepted from the provisions of subsections 311(d) and 311(e): Bar, General Entertainment, Limited Restaurant, Liquor Store, Massage Establishment, Nighttime Entertainment, Outdoor Activity Area, Private Community Facility, Public Community Facility, Restaurant, and Tobacco Paraphernalia Establishment.
(ii) Subsection 311(b)(1)(A)(i) shall apply to Neighborhood Commercial Districts in the following geographic areas:
Area 1: shall comprise all of that portion of the City and County commencing at the point of the intersection of the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean and a straight-line extension of Lincoln Way, and proceeding easterly along Lincoln Way to 17th Avenue, and proceeding southerly along 17th Avenue to Judah Street, and proceeding westerly along Judah Street to 19th Avenue, and proceeding southerly along 19th Avenue to Sloat Boulevard, and proceeding westerly along Sloat Boulevard, and following a straight-line extension of Sloat Boulevard to the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean and proceeding northerly along said line to the point of commencement.
Area 2: shall comprise all of that portion of the City and County commencing at the point of the intersection of Junipero Serra Boulevard and Brotherhood Way, and proceeding northerly along the eastern edge of Junipero Serra Boulevard to Garfield Street, and proceeding easterly along Garfield Street to Grafton Avenue, and continuing easterly along Grafton Avenue to Mount Vernon Avenue, and proceeding easterly along Mount Vernon Avenue to Howth Street, and proceeding northerly along Howth Street to Geneva Avenue, and proceeding easterly along Geneva Avenue to Interstate 280, and proceeding northerly along Interstate 280 to the straight-line extension of Tingley Street, and proceeding southerly along said line to Tingley Street, and proceeding southerly along Tingley Street to Alemany Boulevard, and proceeding easterly along Alemany Boulevard to Congdon Street, and proceeding southerly along Congdon Street to Silver Avenue, and proceeding easterly along Silver Avenue to Madison Street, and proceeding southerly along Madison Street to Burrows Street, and proceeding westerly along Burrows Street to Prague Street, and proceeding southerly along Prague Street to Persia Avenue, and proceeding westerly along Persia Avenue to Athens Street, and proceeding southerly along Athens Street to Geneva Avenue, and proceeding easterly along Geneva Avenue to the intersection of Geneva Avenue and Carter Street, and proceeding westerly along the southeastern boundary of Census Tract 0263.02, Block 3005 to the San Francisco/San Mateo county border, and proceeding westerly along the San Francisco/San Mateo county border to Saint Charles Avenue, and proceeding northerly along Saint Charles Avenue to Interstate 280, and proceeding northeasterly along Interstate 280 to a northerly straight-line extension to Orizaba Avenue, and proceeding northerly along said line to Alemany Boulevard, and proceeding westerly along Alemany Boulevard to Brotherhood Way, and proceeding westerly along Brotherhood Way to the point of commencement.
(iii) Exception for the Ocean Avenue Neighborhood Commercial Transit District. Notwithstanding subsection 311(b)(1)(A), building permit applications in the Ocean Avenue Neighborhood Commercial Transit District for a change of use to the following uses shall be excepted from the provisions of subsections 311(d) and 311(e): General Entertainment, Limited Restaurant, Nighttime Entertainment, Outdoor Activity Area, Private Community Facility, Public Community Facility, Restaurant, and Tobacco Paraphernalia Establishment.
(B) Eastern Neighborhood Mixed Use Districts. In all Eastern Neighborhood Mixed Use Districts a change of use shall be defined as a change in, or addition of, a new land use category. A “land use category” shall mean those categories used to organize the individual land uses that appear in the use tables, immediately preceding a group of individual land uses, including but not limited to the following: Residential Use; Institutional Use; Retail Sales and Service Use; Assembly, Recreation, Arts and Entertainment Use; Office Use; Live/Work Units Use; Motor Vehicle Services Use; Vehicle Parking Use; Industrial Use; Home and Business Service Use; or Other Use.
(2) Alterations. For the purposes of this Section, an alteration shall be defined as an increase to the exterior dimensions of a building except those features listed in Section 136(c)(1) through Section 136(c)(24) and 136(c)(26). In addition, an alteration in RH, RM, and RTO Districts shall also include the removal of more than 75% of a residential building’s existing interior wall framing or the removal of more than 75% of the area of the existing framing.
(3) Micro Wireless Telecommunications Services Facilities. Building permit applications for the establishment of a Micro Wireless Telecommunications Services Facility, other than a Temporary Wireless Telecommunications Services Facility, shall be subject to the review procedures required by this Section. Pursuant to Section 205.2, applications for Temporary Wireless Telecommunications Facilities to be operated for commercial purposes for more than 90 days shall also be subject to the review procedures required by this Section.
(c) Building Permit Application Review for Compliance. Upon acceptance of any application subject to this Section, the Planning Department shall review the proposed project for compliance with the Planning Code and any applicable design guidelines approved by the Planning Commission. Applications determined not to be in compliance with the standards of Articles 1.2, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 of the Planning Code, Residential Design Guidelines, including design guidelines for specific areas adopted by the Planning Commission, or with any applicable conditions of previous approvals regarding the project, shall be held until either the application is determined to be in compliance, is disapproved or a recommendation for cancellation is sent to the Department of Building Inspection.
(1) Design Guidelines. The construction of new buildings and alteration of existing buildings shall be consistent with the design policies and guidelines of the General Plan and with the “Residential Design Guidelines” and all other applicable design guidelines as adopted and periodically amended for specific areas or conditions by the Planning Commission. The design for new buildings with residential uses in RTO Districts shall also be consistent with the design standards and guidelines of the “Ground Floor Residential Units Design Guidelines” as adopted and periodically amended by the Planning Commission. The Planning Director may require modifications to the exterior of a proposed new building or proposed alteration of an existing building in order to bring it into conformity with the applicable design guidelines. These modifications may include, but are not limited to, changes in siting, building envelope, scale texture and detailing, openings, and landscaping.
(2) Removal of Residential Units. When removal or elimination of an authorized or unauthorized residential unit is proposed, the Applicant shall provide notice as required in this Section 311, and shall include contact information for the appropriate City agency or resource for assistance in securing tenant counseling or legal services, as applicable. The Applicant shall post a notice of the application at least 30 inches by 30 inches in a conspicuous common area of the subject property, and such sign shall be posted no later than the start date of the notification period required by this Section 311 and shall remain posted until the conclusion of any hearings on the permit before the Planning Commission, the Zoning Administrator, the Board of Supervisors or the Board of Appeals. The Zoning Administrator shall determine any additional notification procedures to be applied in such a case.
(3) Replacement Structure Required. Unless the building is determined to pose a serious and imminent hazard as defined in the Building Code, an application authorizing demolition of an historic or architecturally important building or of a dwelling shall not be approved and issued until the City has granted final approval of a building permit for construction of the replacement building. A building permit is finally approved if the Board of Appeals has taken final action for approval on an appeal of the issuance or denial of the permit or if the permit has been issued and the time for filing an appeal with the Board has lapsed with no appeal filed.
(A) The demolition of any building, including but not limited to historically and architecturally important buildings, may be approved administratively when the Director of the Department of Building Inspection, the Chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Investigation, or the Director of Public Works determines, after consultation with the Zoning Administrator, that an imminent safety hazard exists, and the Director of the Department of Building Inspection determines that demolition or extensive alteration of the structure is the only feasible means to secure the public safety.
(d) Notification. Upon determination that an application is in compliance with the development standards of the Planning Code, the Planning Department shall cause a notice to be posted on the site pursuant to rules established by the Zoning Administrator and shall cause a written notice describing the proposed project to be sent in the manner described below. This notice shall be in addition to any notices required by the Building Code and shall have a format and content determined by the Zoning Administrator. It shall include a description of the proposal compared to any existing improvements on the site with dimensions of the basic features, elevations and site plan of the proposed project including the position of any adjacent buildings, exterior dimensions and finishes, and a graphic reference scale, existing and proposed uses or commercial or institutional business name, if known. The notice shall describe the project review process and shall set forth the mailing date of the notice and the expiration date of the notification period.
(1) Written notice shall be mailed to the notification group which shall include the project sponsor, tenants of the subject property, relevant neighborhood organizations as described in subsection 311 (d)(4), all individuals having made a written request for notification for a specific parcel or parcels and all owners and, to the extent practical, occupants, of properties in the notification area. For the purposes of Section 311 (c)(2), written notice shall also be mailed to tenants of the subject property in unauthorized residential units.
(2) The notification area shall be all properties within 150 feet of the subject lot in the same Assessor’s Block and on the block face across from the subject lot. When the subject lot is a corner lot, the notification area shall further include all property on both block faces across from the subject lot, and the corner property diagonally across the street.
(3) The latest City-wide Assessor’s roll for names and addresses of owners shall be used for said notice.
(4) The Planning Department shall maintain a list, available for public review, of neighborhood organizations that have indicated in writing an interest in specific properties or areas. Such organizations shall be included in the notification group for the proposed project. Notice to these groups shall be verified by a declaration of mailing signed under penalty of perjury. In the event that such an organization is not included in the notification group for a proposed project as required under this subsection, the proposed project must be re-noticed.
(5) Notification Period. All building permit applications shall be held for a period of 30 calendar days from the date of the mailed notice to allow review by residents and owners of neighboring properties and by neighborhood groups.
(6) Elimination of Duplicate Notice. The notice provisions of this Section may be waived by the Zoning Administrator for building permit applications for projects that have been, or before approval will be, the subject of a duly noticed public hearing before the Planning Commission or Zoning Administrator, provided that the nature of work for which the building permit application is required is both substantially included in the hearing notice and is the subject of the hearing.
(7) Notification Package. The notification package for a project subject to notice under this Section 311 shall include a written notice and reduced-size drawings of the project.
(A) The written notice shall compare the proposed project to the existing conditions at the development lot. Change to basic features of the project that are quantifiable shall be disclosed on the written notice. The basic features of existing and proposed conditions shall include, where applicable, front setback, building depth, rear yard depth, side setbacks, building height, number of stories, dwelling unit count and use of the building.
(B) The written notice shall describe whether the project is a demolition, new construction or alteration project. If the project is an alteration, the type of alteration shall be described: horizontal, vertical or both horizontal and vertical additions and where the alteration is located.
(C) Written project description shall be part of the notice. In addition, the notice shall describe the project review process, information on how to obtain additional information and the contact information of the Planning Department.
(D) The building permit application number(s) shall be disclosed in the written notice. The start and expiration dates of the notice shall be stated. A description about the recipient’s rights to request additional information, to request Discretionary Review by the Planning Commission and to appeal to other boards or commissions shall be provided.
(E) 11x17 sized or equivalent drawings to scale shall be included with the Section 311 written notice. The drawings shall illustrate the existing and proposed conditions in relationship to the adjacent properties. All dimensions and text throughout the drawings shall be legible. The drawings shall include a site plan, floor plans and elevations documenting dimensional changes that correspond to the basic features included in the written notice.
(F) The existing and proposed site plan shall illustrate the project including the full lots and structures of the directly adjacent properties.
(G) The existing and proposed floor plans shall illustrate the location and removal of interior and exterior walls. The use of each room shall be labeled. Significant dimensions shall be provided to document the change proposed by the project.
(H) The existing and proposed elevations shall document the change in building volume: height and depth. Dimensional changes shall be documented, including overall building height and also parapets, penthouses and other proposed vertical and horizontal building extensions. The front and rear elevations shall include the full profiles of the adjacent structures including the adjacent structures’ doors, windows and general massing. Each side elevation shall include the full profile of the adjacent building in the foreground of the project, and the adjacent windows, lightwells and general massing shall be illustrated.
(8) Language Access.
(A) All forms of public notice provided pursuant to this Section 311 shall comply with the requirements of the Language Access Ordinance, Chapter 91 of the Administrative Code, to provide vital information about the Department’s services or programs in the languages spoken by a Substantial Number of Limited English Speaking Persons, as defined in Chapter 91.
(9) Online Notice. For the entire duration of the Notification Period established herein, the following notification materials shall be provided on a publicly accessible website that is maintained by the Planning Department:
(A) A digital copy formatted to print on 11 x 17 inch paper of the posted notice including the contents set forth in subsection 311 (d)(7) for the hearing or application; and
(B) Digital copies of any architectural and/or site plans that are scaled and formatted to print on 11 x 17 inch paper, are consistent with Plan Submittal Guidelines maintained and published by the Planning Department, and that describe and compare, at a minimum, the existing and proposed conditions at the subject property, the existing and proposed conditions in relationship to adjacent properties, and that may include a site plan, floor plans, and elevations documenting dimensional changes required to describe the proposal.
(e) Requests for Planning Commission Review. A request for the Planning Commission to exercise its discretionary review powers over a specific building permit application shall be considered by the Planning Commission if received by the Planning Department no later than 5:00 p.m. of the last day of the notification period as described in this Section 311, subject to guidelines adopted by the Planning Commission. The project sponsor of a building permit application may request discretionary review by the Planning Commission to resolve conflicts between the Director of Planning and the project sponsor concerning requested modifications to comply with the Residential Design Guidelines, or other applicable design guidelines.
(1) Scheduling of Hearing. The Zoning Administrator shall set a time for hearing requests for discretionary review by the Planning Commission within a reasonable period.
(2) Notice. Mailed notice of the discretionary review hearing by the Planning Commission shall be given pursuant to the requirements of Section 333 of this Code.
(Added by Ord. 46-96, App. 2/2/96; amended by Ord. 279-00, File No. 001423, App. 12/15/2000; Ord. 234-05, File No. 050456, App. 9/30/2005; Ord. 215-07, File No. 070213, App. 9/21/2007; Ord. 72-08, File No. 071157, App. 4/3/2008; Ord. 298-08, File No. 081153, App. 12/19/2008; Ord. 140-11, File No. 110482, App. 7/5/2011, Eff. 8/4/2011; Ord. 43-14 , File No. 131148, App. 4/17/2014, Eff. 5/17/2014; Ord. 208-15 , File No. 150587, App. 12/9/2015, Eff. 1/8/2016; Ord. 166-16 , File No. 160477, App. 8/11/2016, Eff. 9/10/2016; Ord. 189-17, File No. 170693, App. 9/15/2017, Eff. 10/15/2017; Ord. 179-18, File No. 180423, App. 7/27/2018, Eff. 8/27/2018, Oper. 1/1/2019; Ord. 199-18, File No. 180482, App. 8/10/2018, Eff. 9/10/2018, Oper. 1/1/2019; Ord. 312-18, File No. 181031, App. 12/21/2018, Eff. 1/21/2019; Ord. 116-19, File No. 181156, App. 6/28/2019, Eff. 7/29/2019; Ord. 206-19, File No. 190048, App. 9/13/2019, Eff. 10/14/2019; Ord. 63-20, File No. 200077, App. 4/24/2020, Eff. 5/25/2020; Ord. 71-20, File No. 191285, App. 5/1/2020, Eff. 6/1/2020; Proposition H, 11/3/2020, Eff. 12/18/2020)
Divisions (c)(1), (c)(2), and (c)(5) amended; Ord. 140-11, Eff. 8/4/2011. Divisions (b)(1) and (b)(2) amended; Ord. 43-14 , Eff. 5/17/2014. Divisions (a), (b), and (c)(2) amended; division (g) added; Ord. 208-15 , Eff. 1/8/2016. Division (f) amended; Ord. 166-16 , Eff. 9/10/2016. Divisions (b)(1) and (b)(2) amended; Ord. 189-17, Eff. 10/15/2017. Divisions (a), (b), (c), and (c)(1) amended; divisions (b)(1)-(b)(1)(B), (b)(3), (c)(2)- (c)(3)(A), and (d)(8)-(d)(9)(B) added; divisions (b)(1), (c)(2)-(c)(5)(H), and (d)-(d)(2) redesignated as (b)(2), (d)-(d)(7)(H), and (e)-(e)(2), respectively; former divisions (b)(2) and (e)-(g)(4) deleted; Ord. 179-18, Oper. 1/1/2019. Divisions (b)(1)(A)(i)-(ii) added; Ord. 199-18, Oper. 1/1/2019. Divisions (b)(1)(A)-(b)(1)(A)(ii) amended; Ord. 312-18, Eff. 1/21/2019. Divisions (a) and (b) amended; Ord. 116-19, Eff. 7/29/2019. Division (b) amended; Ord. 206-19, Eff. 10/14/2019. Divisions (b), (b)(1)(B), and (d)(7)(A) amended; Ord. 63-20, Eff. 5/25/2020. Divisions (b) and (b)(1) amended; division (b)(1)(A)(iii) added; Ord. 71-20, Eff. 6/1/2020. Divisions (b) and (b)(1)(A) amended; Proposition H, 11/3/2020, Eff. 12/18/2020.