Message from the Director

In late February, we were proud to join Mayor London Breed and our city partners at Planning, Public Works,  Fire Department and the Public Utilities Commission at a press conference to recognize the successful work of our staff in clearing the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) application backlog of 919 units within the Mayor's six-month deadline as outlined in Executive Directive 17-02, issued on August 30th.

In coordination with our City Agency partners, we've instituted new protocols to streamline the processing of ADU applications that we receive, which include:
  • Streamlined "Roundtable" plan review by all affected departments;
  • The creation of a multi-agency ADU checklist outlining each agency's requirements and submittal guidelines;
  • Combined recheck appointments with all affected departments and the owner's design professionals.
Based on the changes above, we've been able to review over 200 units applied for within the four-month requirement stipulated in the Mayor's directive. We are committed to continuing the momentum we've accomplished in reviewing and approving ADU applications. New legislation also has been introduced at the Board of Supervisors to waive certain DBI fees for ADU applications. As a "pilot" program to see if these waivers motivate owners to construct more affordable ADUs. We hope more property owners take advantage of this great program to help address the City's housing shortage. 


Tom C. Hui, S.E., C.B.O.
Director and Certified Building Official
Top 5 Construction Projects
as of March 2019

2019 Building Code Cycle Review Underway
The State is completing its process for updating the State's Building Code. As a result, DBI's Technical Service Division staff is preparing to review these new code changes and then incorporate the City's related  passed ordinances to the Building Code. This year-long process will include discussions at DBI's Code Advisory Committee and its subcommittees along with an ordinance introduced before the Board of Supervisors in the Fall to ensure the code changes are codified into San Francisco's Building Code by January 1, 2020. Through this process, DBI ensures the safe construction and alteration of San Francisco's more than 200,000 buildings and updates codes every three years.
To follow the progress of this process, visit 
Stricter  Vacant Storefront Registry Requirements Passes

In March 2019, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to amend this law through File No. 181213. Important changes were made, which include the following:
  • Registration of vacant storefront is required: 1) within 30-days of the commercial storefront becoming vacant or 2) even if it is actively being offered for rent or lease;
  • Annual registration fee payment of $711 required at the time of registration;
  • Property owner is required to pay a penalty of four times (4x) the annual registration fee ($711) for failure to register a vacant storefront within 30 days of the property being noticed by DBI; and
  • Annual report required from a licensed professional, which is engaged and paid for by the property owner, confirming the storefront's interior and exterior are maintained up to code. This annual report is due when the owner renews and pays the storefront's annual registration.
DBI plans to offer a workshop on Vacant Storefronts at this year's Earthquake Safety Fair in June. To be notified of workshop details and how to register, sign up here.
Act Now if Your Property Hasn't Complied with the Commercial Conservation Ordinance! 

The San Francisco Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance requires that commercial properties have code-compliant, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and replace old water-wasting fixtures. Owners were required to provide DBI a Commercial Water Conservation affidavit by 1/1/2017. If you haven't yet done so, please do one of the following to comply:
  • Submit an affidavit to DBI if all plumbing fixtures are efficient
  • Replace non-compliant fixtures and submit an affidavit to DBI
  • Contact DBI to request a variance due to special circumstances
Affidavits are available at and can be submitted to DBI's Window #8 found on the First Floor at 1660 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 or emailed to

To learn about the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's free conservation services, visit: .
Wellness Champions Honored for Promoting Healthier Lifestyles to DBI 
Recently, the Department of Building Inspection was acknowledged for their participation in bringing well-being to the  workplace! DBI received the Silver Award, along with three Spotlights for participating in the "Eat Better Feel Better - Colorful Choices" and "Play Your Way" challenges.  

A big thank you goes out to Director Tom Hui and our Wellness Department Lead, Taras Madison, for being  extremely supportive of all of the Champion's efforts! Sonya Harris, Cynthia D'Amato, and Terry Sulit are very proud "Well-Being@ Work Silver Award Recipients" for 2018! 

The Wellness Champions have definitely "put their best feet forward" in their  many efforts to bring wellness to DBI.
2019 Customer Satisfaction Survey

Did you receive service from our 5th Floor Over-the-Counter operations? Take our Customer Satisfaction  Survey to share your experience and suggest improvements. Survey closes April 5, 2019.

Click here to take our brief survey!

We're Hiring!

6249 Senior Electrical Inspector  
Are you a journey level Electrician, with at least 3 years' public jurisdiction experience as an Electrical Inspector?  DBI is now  accepting applications for Senior Electrical Inspector.  Apply online by clicking here.                              
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. 181213 -Supervisor Fewer's ordinance amending the Building Code to require within 30 days registration of vacant storefronts, whether or not the site is actively offered for rent/lease. Also, requires payment of annual registration fee at the time of registration, and provides pro-rated refunds if applicable Requires annual safety inspections by owner's licensed professional of registered storefronts with 60 days of annual registration renewal; sets the Notice of Violation penalty for failure to register within time limits at four times the annual registration fee.

File No. 190214 - ordinance amending the Building Code to waive specified DBI fees for ADUs and for 100 percent affordable housing projects for a one-year pilot project.

File No. 181211 - Mayor Breed and Supervisor Brown's proposed Small Business Permit Streamlining
ordinance which amends the Health, Planning and Police Codes to allow more flexibility to commercial storefront businesses, while also expediting permit reviews and approvals. DBI role limited to inspections, where the ordinance states inspection approvals shall endeavor to be finalized within 20 business days from the date of receiving the application. DBI working with the Supervisor and Mayor's
staff on the language of this section, given the complexities often involved with final inspections.

File No. 181216-Controls on residential demolition. Introduced by Supervisor Peskin on Dec. 11, amends the Planning and Building Codes to increase substantially penalties for violations, revises definitions for Alterations and Removal, imposes new Conditional Use reviews, requires pre-permit inspections of alleged dry rot. The supervisor is submitting a new version in mid-April.

File No. 190045  - proposed new ordinance by Mayor Breed per Assembly Bill 932 to exempt emergency homeless shelters  from issuance of building permits while conducting life safety reviews.

File No. 190136 - ordinance on code cleanup covering clarifications for building, plumbing, electrical and
housing codes, as well as reenacting a long-standing permit requirement for fences, adding administrative provisions to implement new State law on sub-metering for individual water use, and adding enforcement provisions for the building facade and maintenance program which gets under way in 2021.

File No. 181108 - Amending the police and housing codes to require disclosure of storm flood risks, including 3R reports. This is now law.

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

No File Number Yet - Microenterprise Home Kitchens. Per State AB 626, City Departments meeting to discuss local ordinance elements needed to enable these home kitchens while requiring owners to comply with local codes.


If you would like DB  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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