Message From the Director

As we observe this month's anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, we are reminded of the progress we have made and the work still ahead to protect residents and strengthen buildings before the next major earthquake.
Applying the best in modern engineering and emergency preparedness, we are making sure San Francisco can respond immediately and recover quickly from the next disaster.

To that end, we have made excellent progress with this year's Tier Three of the Mandatory Soft Story Program, a four-year citywide outreach effort focused on strengthening three-story buildings with five to 15 units. This year's September 15th deadline saw a decrease in the number of properties required to submit permits and retrofit plans from more than 1,450 to 484 , a 14  percent drop in less than a year.  To date, that number has gone down even more to 353 non-compliant properties, and 90% of Tier 3 properties in compliance. Thank you to all property owners who met this important deadline!
We have another important deadline approaching for the Private School Earthquake Evaluation program with Seismic Evaluations Reports due November 2nd. This program helps ensure the seismic safety of the structures operated by private schools that house approximately 29 percent of all of San Francisco students and are not subject to the same state requirements as public schools.
As we get ready to wind down the year and welcome the holidays, I'm proud of the new initiatives like the Accessible Business Entrance Program, focused on enabling people with disabilities to have better access to goods and services throughout the city. We look forward to working closely with our partners in the Mayor's Office of Disability, Public Works, Planning, and the Office of Small Business to implement this program, which begins in May 2018. 
Finally, on behalf of all our staff at the Department, I extend our warmest greetings for a happy and safe holiday season to everyone.


Tom C. Hui, S.E., C.B.O.
San Francisco's Top 5 Construction Projects 
Based on Construction Valuation Permitted as of October 2017

1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake Anniversary

October 17th
 marked the 28th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The 6.9 magnitude quake killed 67 people and caused more than $5 billion in damages throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. It was one of the most powerful and destructive earthquakes to ever hit a populated area of the United States. 

Since that time, we have made significant progress to make the city safer in the event of another big quake. The Mandatory Soft Story Program  is in its fourth year as a citywide initiative to retrofit older, wood-framed, multifamily buildings with a soft story condition to help make San Francisco housing stock safer and more resilient. 

Next year the Department is expanding its Seismic Safety Outreach Program , which hosts workshops in English, Chinese, and Spanish and focuses on providing hands-on training and education to ensure that core members of our City know what to do immediately following the next Big One . The program currently operates in five Supervisorial Districts, and in 2018 will be expanded to cover all 11 Supervisors' districts. Read more about earthquake preparedness

Private Schools Earthquake Program:
November Deadline

Seismic Evaluation Reports are due Monday, November 2, for schools identified under the Private School Earthquake Evaluation Program. Established in 2014, the program requires private elementary and secondary schools in San Francisco to obtain an earthquake evaluation of their buildings. According to a study by the California Seismic Safety Commission (SSC), 29 percent of school children in San Francisco, the highest of California counties, attend private schools. This program strives to provide greater transparency of the seismic safety of existing private school buildings, which are not subject to the same rigorous safety requirements as public schools under state law. Download a template of the report

Introducing the Accessible Business Program

In March 2016, the Board of  Supervisors approved Ordinance 51-16 , focusing on providing a ccessible business entrances that will enable persons with disabilities to gain greater physical access to goods and services offered throughout the City. The ordinance also supports owners taking steps to comply with their obligations under federal and state statutes. The new program establishes a Disability Access Compliance unit within the Department of Building Inspection. DBI, Public Works, SF Planning, and the Office of Small Business are working jointly on implementation of the program , with the first compliance check-list documents due on May 23, 2018 . Businesses covered by the ordinance will be divided into four categories and compliance has been spread out over four years, beginning in 2017. It is the intent of the ordinance to make business entrances useable by persons with disabilities wherever possible and to do so with the least possible disruption to businesses. Learn more about this new program
Holiday Safety Tips & Reminders

As the holiday season draws near, DBI wants all residents to enjoy the decorations and good cheer safely. 

Holiday lights, which add a festive glow to our homes and neighborhoods, are electrical devices that should be treated respectfully, and with caution. Check that lights and extension cords are suitable for outdoor use to ensure they are weather resistant. Do not use outdoor lights inside as they may be too hot and inadvertently risky and unsafe for indoor use. Read more fire safety tips .  

B e Safe Online
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. DBI shares the City's commitment to stay informed and learn more about the tools avail able to keep us all safe online. Follow the Department of Technology on Twitter @sfcityCIO to stay updated on special cybersecurity events being hosted throughout the month. 

Get to Know Our Team

We've been working hard and hiring more staff to ensure we are providing the highest levels of effective and efficient service s. Please give a big welcome to our newest hires.

Access  our staff directory here .

Patty Lee                                                 Phil Salomon
Director's Office                                         Management Information  

In This Issue


DBI is the regulatory building safety agency responsible for overseeing the effective, efficient, fair and safe enforcement of building , electrical, plumbing, disability access and housing codes for the City and County of San Francisco's more than 200,000 commercial and residential buildings. 


Read up on our most recent code updates:


Stay up to date on the most recent proposed and passed legislation affecting DBI:

Ordinance amending the Administrative Code to adjust existing surcharges on permit fees, licenses fees, permit review fees, and permit and license renewal fees for permits and licenses issued by the Planning Department, Department of Building Inspection, Department of Public Health, and Police Department that may be appealed to the Board of Appeals.

Ordinance amending the Administrative Code to require the Department of Building Inspection to retain certain records permanently.

Ordinance amending the Police Code to prohibit the Department of Public Works and the Department of Building Inspection from granting special permits to exceed ambient noise levels during night time construction unless certain written findings are made.

Ordinance amending DBI fee tables to allow cost recovery from third party experts and other permit-related expenses. Part of ongoing efforts to strengthen DBI's tall building review process to ensure ongoing building safety.


Chinatown Community Resource Fair 

Portsmouth Square, Chinatown 

October 28 - 11:00am to 2:00pm

Access  Immigration & Citizenship Information, Blessing Scam Prevention Information and Bag Giveaway, Public Safety, Consumer Fraud, Healthcare, Housing, Emergency Preparedness, Finance, and More!

All-Staff Meeting

October 25

We're excited to host our All-Staff Meeting on October 25. We look forward to this opportunity to gather as a team and reflect upon our initiatives, challenges and priorities. DBI services will open at 10:00 a.m. on this day.


Are you interested in having DBI at your street fair or public neighborhood meeting? We would be happy to come present and speak about topics relating to our services. Email and we'll be in touch!




Keep up with the latest DBI news, tips, and contests by following us on Twitter & Facebook!



DBI's offices will be closed for the following upcoming holidays:
  • Thursday, November 23, and Friday, November 24, for Thanksgiving
View our hours of operation here.