Message from the Director
Happy New Year! 2019 is already ushering in a number of newly proposed ordinances that will impact DBI's role in protecting building and life safety while also encouraging commercial corridor vibrancy.
We continue to work hard to meet the City's top priority housing goals as set forth by Mayor Breed through the streamlined ADU program , and as announced in the Mayor's Executive Directive last August 30th

We also are taking immediate DBI action steps to implement new  ordinances from the Mayor and Board of Supervisors  - including increased requirements , higher penalties and stronger enforcement for vacant storefront s , small business permit streamlining and reducing the number of illegal demolitions .
While most of these proposed ordinances were introduced just before the Board's Winter recess at the end of 2018, DB I will be working closely with the Mayor and Board  immediately to ensure DBI has adequate resources to carry out the new requirements.
Our priorities for 2019 include:
  • Encouraging housing production through safe construction and expedited permit reviews and approvals, including Accessory Dwelling Units;
  • Ensuring vibrant and safely maintained buildings in commercial corridors;
  • Protecting existing housing and accelerating reviews and approvals for additions, alterations and permit improvement work by homeowners;
  • Continuing to strengthen the City's seismic safety and resiliency, including additional recommendations for tall buildings.

Once again, Happy New Year!


Tom C. Hui, S.E., C.B.O.
Director and Certified Building Official
Top 5 Construction Projects
as of December 2018

Compliant Commercial Storefronts: Turn in your Required Documents!

Commercial storefront property owners, the first deadline of the Accessible Business Entrance (ABE) program passed on January 1. This Program requires building owners already compliant, exempt and waived - as well as storefronts having no steps,  but with barriers  to submit compliance documents. If you fall under these compliant categories, please submit your required form today! You'll join 4, 3 00 compliant storefront  owners as of mid-January . If you missed the January 1st deadline, contact ABE staff at 415-558-6128 or email: and submit your 6-month extension form immediately.
Assembly Bill #3002 passed in September 2018, which requires building departments to notify commercial building permit applicants of their responsibility to meet federal and state legal requirements on accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Property owners  must engage a Certified Access Specialist before alteration or construction occurs to ensure the building meets state and federal accessibility requirements. See here for the Division of the State Architect's notification on this new law.
Tightening Restrictions on Unlawful Residential Demolition

Last December stricter controls on residential demolition was introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin to respond to a continuing number of unlawful demolitions that occurred annually over the past few years. This new ordinance amends Planning and Building Codes to increase substantial penalties for unlawful demolition violations; revises definitions for Alterations and Removal; imposes new Conditional Use Hearings by Planning; and requires pre-permit DBI inspections of suspected dry rot before work commences. This legislation has been referred to the Board's Land Use Committee, following referrals to Code Advisory Committee and BIC reviews. We are continuing discussions of this legislation with the Supervisor and interested stakeholders with Board actions expected in February and March.

For more information on this, read the legislation here:  File No. 181216 .  

Encouraging Business Corridor Vibrancy
In response to a rapidly changing retail paradigm, with continued impacts on neighborhood quality of life issues by a growing number of vacant storefronts  throughout the City , Supervisor Sandra Fewer has introduced legislation amending the Building Code to require immediate registration of vacant storefronts whether or not the site is actively offered for rent/lease . The ordinance requires payment of annual registration fee at the time of registration, within the first 30 days of vacancy; and requires annual safety inspections within 60 days of the annual registration renewal by the property owner's licensed contractor, engineer or architect and that professional's submitted annual report to DBI to ensure safety maintenance of the vacant space. The ordinance also sets the Notice of Violation penalty for failure to register within 30 days of vacancy at four times the current annual registration fee. This legislation will be heard at Land Use, following supportive positions by DBI's Code Advisory Committee and BIC. Board action is expected in January and February, 2019.

For more information on this, read the legislation here:  File No. 181213.

Permitting Flexible Small Business Uses

T o help encourage innovative uses of often vacant storefronts and bring business diversity to merchant corridors, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Vallie Brown have introduced the Small Business Permit Streamlining ordinance . This amends the Health, Planning and Police Codes to allow more flexibility to commercial storefront business  uses , while also expediting permit reviews and approvals. The i mpact of this new legislation is limited to DBI's role in inspections, where the ordinance states inspection approvals shall endeavor to be finalized within 20 business days from the date of receiving the application. DBI is working with both parties on the language of this section, given the scheduling complexities often involved with final inspections. Similar to the other legislation , this ordinance will be referred to Land Use, as well as to departments, including CAC and BIC reviews. It is expected in January-February 2019 .

For more information on this, read the legislation here: 

Requiring Disclosure of Flood Risk Zone

Discussion and possible action regarding a proposed ordinance
amending the Police Code to require sellers or landlords of real property in San Francisco to disclose to buyers or tenants that the property is located within the flood risk zone delineated on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's 100-Year Storm Flood Risk Map, in addition to other requirements. This disclosure also will be added to DBI's 3R Reports. The BIC voted to support this ordinance on January 16, 2019.
For more information on this, read the legislation here: File No. 181108.

Local Codification of DBI's Pioneering EV Charging Station Approval Process
For  several years, DBI has implement ed a successful streamlined priority review of electric vehicle charging stations. In 2016 , the State passed legislation to require all jurisdictions to implement this streamlined process mirroring the City's current process. To ensure compliance with this State requirement, outgoing Supervisor Katy Tang introduced legislation to codify DBI's priority permit review and approval of this pioneering process for EV Charging stations. It passed unanimously at the Board on December 18th, and takes legal effect the week of January 21. DBI will provide clarifying guidelines with an Information Sheet / Administrative Bulletin within 12 months from the date this ordinance takes legal effect.
For more information on this, read the legislation here:  File No. 180090.

2019 Valuation Threshold

The Valuation Threshold for Alterations, Structural Repairs or Additions to Existing Buildings: In accordance with the 2016 California Building Code Chapter 2 definition of valuation threshold, the 2019 valuation threshold is $166,157.00 and will be updated again in January 2020. The Valuation Threshold is an annually adjusted dollar amount used in part to determine the extent of required path of travel upgrades when repairs, alterations or additions are performed within commercial tenant space for persons with disabilities.

Additional information is available on   DSA's Valuation Threshold Web page . If you have any questions regarding the Valuation Threshold, please contact Technical Services at 415-558-6205 or via email at
Congratulations Stephen Kwok of Plan Review Services
Employee of the Quarter - Quarter 4
2018's Employee of the Year

Stephen was recognized at the January Building Inspection Commission meeting for his hard work and exceptional leadership throughout the year in various roles within the Department of Building Inspection which include: Plan Review Services, Accessory Dwelling Unit Program, and serving as DBI liaison to the San Francisco Housing Authority and San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development in facilitating affordable housing projects via Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). Additionally, he further demonstrates his knowledge and expertise in the building code as a state Certified Access Specialist (CASp) in ensuring buildings have the appropriate accommodations for persons with disabilities through the Accessible Business Entrance Program. Keep up the good work!
Get to Know Our Team
We continue to hire more staff to ensure we are providing the highest levels of effective and efficient customer services. Please give a big welcome to our newest hires.

Access  our staff directory  here .  

   Natalie Jew                            John Murray
   Finance Services                    Legislative/Public Affairs
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. Here are some listed below:

File No. 171194 - Amending the Building Code to conform with State law to provide an expedited permit process for solar energy systems.


If you would like DBI to attend your association or organization's meeting to discuss the Accessible Business Entrance Program or any other DBI related topics, contact


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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Holiday - DBI Closed
Date: January 21, 2019

Chinese New Year Community Street Fair
Date: February 23-24, 2019