BSM Inspection and Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions
The Bureau of Street Use and Mapping (BSM) Inspection and Enforcement Division strives to ensure the safe passage of the public right of way through superior and enduring quality inspection, education of both contractors and the public as well as fair enforcement of the public ordinances and permit requirements of the City and County of San Francisco.
All permits issued by us are subject to inspection by the BSM Inspection Team whose activities are varied and broad in scope, ranging from utility excavations in the roadway to tree planting in the sidewalk as well as damaged sidewalks, café tables and chairs, display merchandise, encroachments, curb realignment, roadway defects, street improvement projects and other related infrastructure work in the public right of way.
Street inspectors inspect damaged sidewalks, utility excavations, café tables & chairs, sidewalk displays, encroachments, curb reconfigurations, roadway defects, street improvement projects, and other related infrastructure in the public right-of-way.
The BSM Inspection team covers the wide range of inspection work through the implementation of targeted inspection programs as well as providing inspection services based on the type of inspection required.
BSM Inspection Programs
Sidewalk Inspection and Repair Program (SIRP)
The Sidewalk Inspection and Repair Program (SIRP) is proactive program implemented in 2007. SIRP inspects and repairs sidewalks throughout the City on a 25 year cycle and the schedule is prioritized by a number of factors including pedestrian usage as well as community elements that include:
Commercially-zoned districts, as defined by the Planning Department
Sidewalks within 500 ft of schools, public facilities, hospitals, or senior centers
Population density, as defined in the 2000 Census.
The SIRP program informs all responsible parties (both public and private property owners) of sidewalk damage. The Department then coordinates repairs in an expedited time frame to increase efficiency and improve pedestrian safety. Sidewalks identified with the greatest number of these community elements are inspected and repaired first.
Property owners also have the opportunity to apply for a landscape permit to green their sidewalk.
Accelerated Sidewalk Abatement Program (ASAP) - Abatement
The Accelerated Sidewalk Abatement Program (ASAP) inspects and expedites corrective action for sidewalks in extremely poor condition along the residential and commercial thoroughways, as defined by the City’s Better Streets Plan. The Program inspects and expedites corrective action on claim and accessibility-related sidewalk complaints, as well as high-priority pedestrian right-of-way conditions referred by the public and verified by inspection staff. ASAP also inspects and initiates corrective action on sidewalks around City-maintained trees and fronting the following City agencies:
Under City and State codes, the fronting property owner is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the sidewalk fronting his / her property. If the property owner fails to repair the sidewalk after having been duly notified, the City is entitled to perform the repair and invoice the property owner for the cost of inspection and abatement.
BSM Inspection Services
District Sidewalk Inspection
District Sidewalk Inspectors inspect and issue a Notice to Repair Sidewalk (NTR) to property owners for nonconforming sidewalks fronting private properties. Property Owners are provided a NTR, and if the work is not completed, the City can repair the sidewalk, and recover the cost of repair from the property owner under an abatement process. For City maintained public sidewalks, the Inspector generates a notification to the appropriate City agency for repair as necessary.
Street Improvement Inspection
BSM’s Street Improvement section inspects all construction work permitted in the right-of -way that is not performed by us or private utility contractor. Permits for work include excavations, new sidewalks, curbs, parking strips, streets and roadways / private driveways, and alterations to existing sidewalks and curbs, e.g., a new curb cut and sidewalk ramp to a new parking garage and / or changes to the sidewalk to facilitate accessibility for the disabled.
The Street Improvement Inspector may need to review a range of items for compliance at a single site including, a new curb, gutter, parking strip, and accessible ramps. Other services provided by Street Improvement include pre-construction site meetings and review of all construction trailers and debris boxes placed in the street related to private construction.
The Street Inspection section reviews and approves the finished products constructed under encroachment permits which are, by definition, any construction that extends into the public right of way; in most cases, this extension occurs on the sidewalk. An encroachment permit may be an addendum to a building permit or a permit obtained separately for new construction, or to legalize an existing condition. Common types of minor encroachments are stairs, planters affixed to the sidewalk, railings, awnings, doors of various types and non-standard sidewalk cross slopes.
BSM Utility Inspectors inspect utility excavation work for compliance to the Public Works Excavation Code and other City Ordinances relating street excavation, utility work, paving and other construction projects in the public right of way.
Street excavations occur throughout the City. We provide information and inspection services to coordinate street construction activities in order to minimize the impact of construction on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
Commercial District Inspection
BSM issues permits for Display Merchandise and Café Tables & Chairs. The Commercial District Inspectors review each permit and site location with business owners, responds to citizens’ complaints, advises the permittee of upcoming annual renewal(s), and regularly patrols the areas with the highest sidewalk use to ensure code compliance. Permittees may receive verbal and written warnings for code violations or violating permit conditions.
BSM Inspection Enforcement
If a business or property owner occupies the public right-of-way or completes work without a permit, the responsible party will be subject to fines of up to $10,000 per day. All permits issued by us are revocable at the will of the Director of Public Works. All permits issued are subject to inspection and shall be constructed per approved plans and to City specifications. All encroachments and constructions shall be maintained by the permittee and /or the owner of the fronting property.
Under the general requirements of any Street Use Permit, the permittee must maintain a safe pedestrian walkway with a minimum width of four feet clear at all times. A wider walkway width
may be required in areas with higher pedestrian traffic and along business and commercial corridors.
A minimum of 4-feet clear walkway must be maintained for pedestrian traffic around the excavation site at all times.
Paths must be properly delineated.
ADA requirements for path-of-travel must be observed at all times.
Follow Guidelines for Placement of Barricades (link to guidelines) at construction sites
Allow pedestrians to navigate construction zones with proper scaffolding.
Call or visit 311 to report violations or to request inspection services.
For More Information
For more information or clarification on any of the permit requirements, please contact us at:
San Francisco Public Works • Bureau of Street-Use & Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor • San Francisco, CA 94103 • Map
Telephone : (415) 554-5810 Fax: (415) 554-6161
Office Hours : 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday, except official holidays
Note: all cash and check transactions must be submitted before 4:00 p.m.