Amenities placed on the sidewalk can enhance the overall pedestrian experience as long as accessibility for all is maintained. For example, a Minor Sidewalk Encroachment Permit is required to install a public service bench (available for general public use).
In order to apply for a permit to install a sidewalk structure for public use, take a photo of the structure you want to install, and draw a schematic of the intended location and download the permit application below:
The director of Public Works may grant permission, revocable at his will, to an owner of property abutting any court, alley or street to install and maintain minor encroachments such as fences, retaining walls, steps or stairways and other minor structures in the sidewalk fronting such property where such encroachments are desirable or convenient in conjunction with the owner’s use and enjoyment of his property, or required for the safety, convenience and comfort of the public using the sidewalk. (Public Works Code Sec. 723.2)
Such encroachments shall not occupy more than 10 percent of the area of the sidewalk fronting the property nor more than 25 percent of the width of the sidewalk, unless the director of Public Works determines that such restrictions are not applicable due to the nature of the encroachment. The director may require further restrictions or modifications and he/she may stipulate such conditions, as he/she deems necessary. No advertisement shall be permitted on the encroachments.
As required by the Board of Supervisors, certain types of minor encroachments are subject to annual assessment (rent).
What is considered an encroachment?
Any of the variances below which is outside of the property line or within the public right-of-way are considered encroachment, for example:
Warped Driveways • ADA Level Landings • Abandon underground storage tank
Existing (E) sub-sidewalk basement • Existing (E) hatches/ elevator doors • Utility Lines (i.e. irrigation)
Planters (above ground)
Retaining Walls (less than 4 feet) • Shoring (Tiebacks/ soldier beams/ nails) • Awnings with embedded poles
Shoring (Exhibit A)
For Greener alternatives, such as using shrubbery as a diverter for warped driveways or replacing concrete and similar materials with landscaping where it can be appropriately placed and also fits the neighborhood pattern, please visit our Landscaping permit section for additional information and review our presentation on the benefits of greening.
Minor Sidewalk Encroachment Permit Application Form. [Please fill out the form completely.]
A non-refundable fee (including processing, inspection, and assessment), payable by cash, check or VISA/MC only to Public Works. Fee Schedule
Minor Sidewalk Encroachment Plans: Four (4) sets (if encroachment involves engineering such as shoring, retaining walls and etc. A wet-stamp and signature may be required.) Encroachment plans can be in conjunction with other Public Works permits. (for certain types of encroachments, e.g., public service benches, less detailed drawings and or sketches can be submitted instead of the detailed drawings identified above)
Photos of the sidewalk frontage along the subject property and the surrounding neighbors within the block showing existing neighborhood encroachment pattern.
Review and approval of Minor Sidewalk Encroachment applications can take up to 90 days, depending on the complexity of the encroachment. All applicants who can comply with all the above guidelines are encouraged to submit an application for permit to:
SF Public Works • Bureau of Street-Use & Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor • San Francisco, CA 94103 - map
Telephone : (415) 554-5810 • Monday-Friday
Operating Hours : 8:00am-5:00pm
Permit Processing Hours : 7:30am-4:00pm
Public Works may find it necessary to request additional information after initial review of the application.