San Francisco

Facade Ordinance

San Francisco Ordinance #67-16 was passed on April 26, 2016, and approved by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on May 6, 2016. The ordinance became effective June 5, 2016. The purpose of the facade ordinance is to promote public safety by reducing the risk of death or injury that may result from the effects of deterioration on the exterior facades of buildings.

Ordinance Administration

The Department of Building Inspection administers the facade ordinance for the City of San Francisco.

The Department of Building Inspection
1660 Mission Street, San Francisco, California, 94103
Tel: 415.558.6088 (General Information)

Buildings Requiring Inspection

The primary requirements of the ordinance include:

  1. The facades of certain buildings having five or more stories must be inspected periodically by a licensed architect or engineer;
  2. Inspection reports must be submitted to the owner and the Department of Building Inspection according to an inspection and reporting schedule;
  3. Maintenance of the facades must be conducted in accordance with an Administrative Bulletin that is based on a national standard;
  4. Establishes a fee to compensate the Department for review and related evaluation processing;

Inspection Schedule

Building Construction Date

Deadline for Inspection and Report Submission
Prior to 1910 December 31, 2021
Between 1910 and 1925 December 31, 2023
Between 1926 and 1970 December 31, 2025
After 1970 December 31, 2027

The building construction date refers to the date the Department issued the Certificate of Completion for the original building or other Department documentation showing the date of completion of the original construction, regardless of the dates of any additions or alterations.

After the initial inspection, buildings must be inspected and reports submitted every ten years.

The initial inspections may be waived if the building facade has had a comprehensive inspection and the necessary repair work completed within ten years preceding the due date for the initial inspection. Owners will need to submit documentation to demonstrate that the inspection/repairs were completed.

Inspection Requirements

The inspection procedures are broadly based upon standards developed by ASTM International and issued in ASTM E 2270, “Standard Practice for Periodic Inspection of Building Facades for Unsafe Conditions.”

The facade inspections must include all areas on the exterior of the building, except for horizontal roof areas. The facade includes all exterior walls, windows, balconies, cornices, parapets, and appurtenances. The facade also includes walls supported at roof level, such as penthouse walls, chimneys, and so forth. The San Francisco ordinance also includes attached equipment, decorative elements such as urns, friezes and attached artwork, signs, fire escapes, flagpoles, vents, lights, and other elements that pose a safety hazard if dislodged.

Certain portions of the building facade that do not contribute to a safety hazard or that do not require regular maintenance are exempt from inspections. Examples include narrow alley ways between buildings and courtyards within buildings that do not have access via a door.

The facades of historic buildings must have the inspection and any needed repair work performed by qualified professionals and in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Planning Department Preservation Program provides information to understand if a Building qualifies as a historic resource.