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(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish requirements for the improvement of the public right-of-way associated with development projects, such that the public right-of-way may be safe, accessible, convenient and attractive to pedestrian use and travel by all modes of transportation consistent with the San Francisco General Plan, achieve best practices in ecological stormwater management, and provide space for public life and social interaction, in accordance with the City's "Better Streets Policy" (Administrative Code Section 98.1).
(b) Better Streets Plan.
(1) The Better Streets Plan, as defined in Administrative Code Section 98.1(e), shall govern the design, location, and dimensions of all pedestrian and streetscape items in the public right-of-way, including but not limited to those items shown in Table 1. Development projects that propose or are required through this Section to make pedestrian and streetscape improvements to the public right-of-way shall conform with the principles and guidelines for those elements as set forth in the Better Streets Plan to the maximum extent feasible.
(2) Proposed improvements also shall be subject to approval by other City bodies with permitting jurisdiction over such streetscape improvements.
(3) The Department and other City bodies shall take into account a project’s scale when determining the appropriate scope of improvements.
PHYSICAL ELEMENT (1)
PHYSICAL ELEMENT (1)
Pedestrian countdown devices
Special crosswalk treatments
Restrictions on vehicle turning movements at crosswalks
Removal or reduction of permanent crosswalk closures
Raised crosswalks* (2)
Parking restrictions at crosswalks (intersection daylighting)*
Curb radius guidelines
Corner curb extensions or bulb-outs*
Center or side medians
Pedestrian refuge islands
Transit boarding islands
Flexible use of the parking lane
Parking lane planters
Traffic calming circles
Sidewalk or median pocket parks
Reuse of ‘pork chops’ and excess right-of-way
Multi-way boulevard treatments
Shared public ways
Tree basin furnishings*
Stormwater management tools*
Street and pedestrian lighting*
Standard streetscape elements marked with a *. (Requirement varies by street type: see the Better Streets Plan)
(1) The City shall not require physical elements beyond the subject frontage with the exception of raised crosswalks and curb ramps.
(2) The City shall require raised crosswalks only when the subject right-of-way is 40-feet or less and the crosswalk is installed at a street corner.
(c) Required streetscape and pedestrian improvements. Development projects shall include streetscape and pedestrian improvements on all publicly accessible right-of-ways directly fronting the property as follows:
(1) Street trees. Project Sponsors shall plant and establish street trees as set forth in Article 16, Sections 805(a) and 806(d) of the Public Works Code; provided, however, that where a property owner is either (A) adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit pursuant to Section 207(c)(4) or 207(c)(6) of this Code or (B) legalizing a Dwelling Unit pursuant to Section 207.3 of this Code, the owner may elect to pay the in-lieu fee authorized by Section 807(f) of the Public Works Code.
(2) Other streetscape and pedestrian elements for large projects.
(i) In any district, streetscape and pedestrian elements in conformance with the Better Streets Plan shall be required, if the following conditions are present:
a. The project is on a lot that is greater than one-half acre in total area; or includes more than 50,000 gross square feet of new construction; or contains 150 feet of total lot frontage on one or more publicly-accessible right-of-ways; or its frontage encompasses the entire block face between the nearest two intersections with any other publicly-accessible right-of-way; and
b. The project includes new construction of 10 or more Dwelling Units; or new construction of 10,000 gross square feet or greater of non-residential space; or an addition of 20% or more of Gross Floor Area to an existing building; or a Change of Use of 10,000 gross square feet or greater of a PDR use to a non-PDR use.
(ii) Project sponsors that meet the thresholds of this Subsection shall submit a streetscape plan to the Planning Department showing the location, design, and dimensions of all existing and proposed streetscape elements in the public right-of-way directly adjacent to the fronting property, including street trees, sidewalk landscaping, street lighting, site furnishings, utilities, driveways, and curb lines, and the relation of such elements to proposed new construction and site work on the subject property.
(i) Required streetscape elements. A continuous soil-filled trench parallel to the curb shall connect all street tree basins for those street trees required under the Public Works Code. The trench may be covered only by Permeable Surfaces as defined in Section 102 of the Planning Code, except at required tree basins, where the soil must remain uncovered. The Director of Planning, or his or her designee, may modify or waive this requirement where a continuous trench is not possible due to the location of existing utilities, driveways, sub-sidewalk basements, or other pre-existing surface or sub-surface features.
(ii) Additional streetscape elements. The Department may require a project to construct any Standard Streetscape Element listed in Table 1, above, including benches, bicycle racks, curb ramps, corner curb extensions, specified bulb-outs, stormwater facilities, lighting, sidewalk landscaping, special sidewalk paving, and other site furnishings.
a. Streetscape elements shall be selected from a City-approved palette of materials and furnishings, where applicable, and shall be subject to approval by all applicable City agencies.
b. Additionally, streetscape elements shall be consistent with the overall char- acter and materials of the district, and shall have a logical transition or termination to the sidewalk and/or roadway adjacent to the fronting property.
(iii) Sidewalk widening. The Planning Department, in consultation with other agencies, shall evaluate whether sufficient roadway space is available for sidewalk widening for the entirety or a portion of the fronting public right-of-way in order to meet or exceed the recommended sidewalk widths for the appropriate street type per Table 2 and the Better Streets Plan and/or to provide additional space for pedestrian and streetscape amenities. If it is found that sidewalk widening is feasible and desirable, the Planning Department shall require the owner or developer to install such sidewalk widening as a condition of approval, including all associated utility re-location, drainage, and street and sidewalk paving.
(iv) Minimum sidewalk width. New publicly-accessible right-of-ways proposed as part of development projects shall meet or exceed the recommended sidewalk widths for the appropriate street type per Table 2. Where a consistent front building setback of 3 feet or greater extending for at least an entire block face is provided, the recommended sidewalk width may be reduced by up to 2 feet. Where a Board of Supervisors adopted streetscape plan or community-based plan recommends a sidewalk width greater than the recommended sidewalk width in Table 2 below, the City may require development projects to meet the greater of the two widths.
Street Type (per Better Streets Plan)
Recommended Sidewalk Width (Minimum required for new streets)
Street Type (per Better Streets Plan)
Recommended Sidewalk Width (Minimum required for new streets)
For Downtown Commercial Streets that are sited within the Downtown Streetscape Plan Area, the recommended sidewalk width shall be the width recommended in the Downtown Streetscape Plan. For Downtown Commercial Streets that are sited outside of the Downtown Streetscape Plan Area, the recommended sidewalk width shall be 15 feet.
Park edge (multi-use path)
Shared public way
(C) Review and approvals.
(i) The project sponsor shall submit to the Planning Department the streetscape plan required by this section with the project’s first Development Application as defined in Section 401, and the Planning Department or Commission shall consider it for approval at the time of other project approval actions. Prior to making its determination about required streetscape and pedestrian elements, the Planning Department shall consult with other City agencies tasked with the design, permitting, use, and maintenance of the public right-of-way. If, after this consultation, any of the affected agencies find that the project sponsor cannot install one or more of the Standard Streetscape Elements due to physical constraints of or other complications related to the site or the public right-of-way surrounding or in the vicinity of the project, then the Department may impose alternative streetscape improvement requirements that provide equivalent or better protection to pedestrians, bicyclists, or transit movement, and/or reduce conflicts among transportation modes. However, such alternative improvements shall cost no more than Standard Streetscape Elements that would have been required and shall be approved only after consultation with the affected agencies.
(ii) Final approval by the affected agencies and construction of such streetscape improvements shall be completed prior to the issuance of the first Certificate of Occupancy or temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the project, unless otherwise extended by the Zoning Administrator. Should conditions, policies, or determinations by other City agencies require a change to the streetscape plan after approval of the streetscape plan but prior to commencement of construction of the streetscape improvements, the Planning Department shall have the authority to require revision to such streetscape plan. In such case, the Zoning Administrator shall extend the timeframe for completion of such improvements by an appropriate duration as necessary.
(iii) Should the construction timeline for a development project be shorter than the construction timeline for the associated streetscape improvement, such as for a change-of-use project, the Zoning Administrator may extend the timeframe for completion of such improvements by an appropriate duration as necessary. As a condition of any such extension, the Zoning Administrator can require the project sponsor to post a bond in the amount of such improvement and subject to the terms that the Zoning Administrator deems appropriate.
(iv) Waiver. Any City agency tasked with the design, permitting, use, and maintenance of the public right-of-way, may waive any or all Department required improvements of the streetscape plan as described in this Subsection under that agency’s jurisdiction if said agency determines that such improvement or improvements is inappropriate, interferes with utilities to an extent that makes installation financially infeasible, or would negatively affect the public welfare. Any such waiver shall be from the Director or General Manager of the affected agency, shall be in writing to the applicant and the Department, and shall specify the basis for the waiver. Waivers, if any, shall be obtained prior to commencement of construction of the streetscape improvements unless extenuating circumstances arise during the construction of said improvements. If such a waiver is granted, the Department reserves the right to impose alternative streetscape improvement requirements that provide equivalent or better protection to pedestrians, bicyclists, or transit movement, and/or reduce conflicts among transportation modes. However, such alternative requirements shall cost no more than element or elements that have been waived in the adopted streetscape plan and shall be approved only after consultation with the affected agencies. This Subsection shall not apply to the waiver of the street tree requirement set forth in Section 138.1(c)(1).
(d) Neighborhood Streetscape Plans. In addition to the requirements listed in Subsection 138.1(c), the Planning Department in coordination with other city agencies, and after a public hearing, may adopt streetscape plans for particular streets, neighborhoods, and districts, containing standards and guidelines to supplement the Better Streets Plan. Development projects in areas listed in this subsection that propose or are required through this section to make pedestrian and streetscape improvements to the public right-of-way shall conform with the standards and guidelines in the applicable neighborhood streetscape plan in addition to those found in the Better Streets Plan.
(1) Downtown Streetscape Plan.
(A) In any C-3 District sidewalk paving as set forth in the Downtown Streetscape Plan shall be installed by the applicant under the following conditions:
(i) Any new construction;
(ii) The addition of Gross Floor Area equal to 20 percent or more of an existing building; or
(iii) A Change of Use of 10,000 or more gross square feet of PDR use to a non-PDR use.
(B) In accordance with the provisions of Section 309 of the Planning Code governing C-3 Districts, when a permit is granted for any project abutting a public sidewalk in a C-3 District, the Planning Commission may impose additional requirements that the applicant install sidewalk improvements such as benches, bicycle racks, lighting, special paving, seating, landscaping, and sidewalk widening in accordance with the guidelines of the Downtown Streetscape Plan if it finds that these improvements are necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the General Plan of the City and County of San Francisco. In making this determination, the Planning Commission shall consider the level of street as defined in the Downtown Streetscape Plan.
(C) If a sidewalk widening or a pedestrian street improvement is used to meet the open space requirement, it shall conform to the guidelines of Section 138.
(D) The Planning Commission shall determine whether the streetscape improvements required by this Section may be on the same site as the building for which the permit is being sought, or within 900 feet, provided that all streetscape improvements are located entirely within the C-3 District.
(2) Rincon Hill Streetscape Plan. In the Rincon Hill Downtown Residential Mixed Use (RH-DTR) and Folsom and Main Residential/Commercial Special Use Districts, the boundaries of which are shown in Section Map No. 1 of the Zoning Map, for all frontages abutting a public sidewalk, the project sponsor is required to install sidewalk widening, street trees, lighting, decorative paving, seating and landscaping in accordance with the approved Streetscape Master Plan of the Rincon Hill Area Plan for: (A) any new construction; or (B) the addition of Gross loor1 Area equal to 20 percent or more of an existing building, or (C) a Change of Use of 10,000 or more square feet from a PDR use to a non-PDR use.
(e) Additional provisions.
(1) Maintenance. Unless otherwise determined, fronting property owners shall maintain all streetscape improvements required by this section, including landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, special paving, and other site furnishings at no public expense per the requirements of the Public Works Code and the Better Streets Plan for sidewalks and street furnishings, except for street trees and standard street lighting from a City-approved palette of street lights and any improvements within the roadway. Conditions intended to assure continued maintenance of the improvements for the actual lifetime of the building giving rise to the streetscape improvement requirement may be imposed as a condition of approval by the Planning Department.
(2) For any streetscape and/or pedestrian improvements installed pursuant to this section, the abutting property owner or owners shall hold harmless the City and County of San Francisco, its officers, agents, and employees, from any damage or injury caused by reason of the design, construction or maintenance of the improvements, and shall require the owner or owners or subsequent owner or owners of the respective property to be solely liable for any damage or loss occasioned by any act. This requirement shall be deemed satisfied if City permits for the improvements include indemnification and hold harmless provisions.
(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Section, an applicant shall apply for and obtain all required permits and approvals for changes to the legislated sidewalk widths and street improvements.
(f) Removal and modification of private encroachments on public rights-of-way.
(1) Applicability. This section shall apply to developments that:
(A) construct new buildings;
(B) include building alterations which increase the gross square footage of a structure by 20 percent or more;
(C) add off-street parking or loading; or
(D) remove off-street parking or loading.
(2) Requirements. As a condition of approval for the applicable developments in subsection (b), the Planning Department may require the project sponsor to:
(A) reduce the number or width of driveway entrances to a lot, to comply with the streetscape requirements of this Code and the protected street frontages of Section 155(r);
(B) remove encroachments onto or over sidewalks and streets that reduce the pedestrian path of travel, or reduce the sidewalk area available for streetscape amenities such as landscaping, street trees and outdoor seating;
(C) remove or reduce in size basements which extend under public rights-of-way.
(3) Standards. In instances where such encroachments are removed, the Planning Department shall require that the replacement curbs, sidewalks, street trees, and landscaping shall meet the standards of the Better Streets Plan and of any applicable neighborhood streetscape plans.
(Added by Ord. 314-95, App. 10/6/95; amended by Ord. 310-10, File No. 101194, App. 12/16/2010; Ord. 232-14 , File No. 120881, App. 11/26/2014, Eff. 12/26/2014; Ord. 119-15 , File No. 150221, App. 7/15/2015, Eff. 8/14/2015; Ord. 123-15 , File No. 150357, App. 7/17/2015, Eff. 8/16/2015; Ord. 188-15 , File No. 150871, App. 11/4/2015, Eff. 12/4/2015; Ord. 195-18, File No. 180268, App. 8/10/2018, Eff. 9/10/2018; Ord. 218-18, File No. 180752, App. 9/14/2018, Eff. 10/15/2018; Ord. 277-18, File No. 180914, App. 11/20/2018, Eff. 12/21/2018; Ord. 63-20, File No. 200077, App. 4/24/2020, Eff. 5/25/2020)
Subdivision designations corrected throughout divisions (c) and (d); former divisions (c)(1)(B)-(D) and division (d)(1)(A) amended; division (f) added; Ord. 232-14 , Eff. 12/26/2014. Division (c)(1) amended; former divisions (c)(1)(A)-(D) deleted; division (c)(2)(B) amended; new division (c)(2)(B)(i) added and former divisions (c)(2)(B)(i)-(iii) redesignated as (c)(2)(B)(ii)-(iv); current division (c)(2)(B)(ii) amended; Ord. 119-15 , Eff. 8/14/2015. Division (d)(2) amended; Ord. 123-15 , Eff. 8/16/2015. Table 1 amended; Ord. 188-15 , Eff. 12/4/2015. Nonsubstantive amendment to division (c)(1); Ord. 195-18, Eff. 9/10/2018. Division (c)(1) amended; Ord. 218-18, Eff. 10/15/2018. Divisions (b)(3), (c)(2)(A)(i)a. and b., (c)(2)(C)(iii), and (d)(1)(A)(iii) added; former division (c)(2)(C)(iii) redesignated as (c)(2)(C)(iv) and amended; Tables 1 and 2 amended; divisions (c)(1), (c)(2)(A)(i), (c)(2)(B)(i)-(iv), (c)(2)(C)(i), (d)(1)(A)(ii), (d)(2), (e)(1), and (f)(1) amended; Ord. 277-18, Eff. 12/21/2018. Table 2 amended; Ord. 63-20, Eff. 5/25/2020.
1. So in Ord. 277-18.