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Utility Excavation


How do I get an Excavation Permit?

Before applying for an Excavation Permit, you must register with the San Francisco Public Works. You must provide or have on record with the Department: 

  1. A copy of the legal document (such as a franchise, license, or encroachment permit) authorizing you to occupy and use the Public Right-of-Way for the purpose stated in the Excavation Permit application. 

  2. A current Business Tax Registration Certificate 

  3. Current evidence of insurance (as defined in Section 2.4.23 of the Public Works Code 

  4. A $25,000 Deposit (as defined in Section 2.4.40 of the Public Work; Code). 

  5. A 24-hour phone number and name of a person who will respond to emergencies. 

  6. The name, telephone and facsimile numbers and the mailing and email addresses of the person who will receive all official correspondence from the Department 


How long does it take to get a permit? 

Once the registration is complete and accepted, and the account is in good standing an on-line application to excavate no special request or special conditions will be approved, denied or conditionally approved: 

  1. Small size excavation permits (projects taking less than 15 days to complete)

    • The Department may approve a permit within 5 business days. 

  2. Medium and Large size excavation permits (projects taking 15 days or longer to complete) 

    • The Department may approve a permit within 25 business days. 

Keep in mind that these approval dates are estimated dates and will depend on the complexity of your project and whether you will be excavating in a moratorium street, will be installing curb ramps, or other additional work. 


When does a permit expire?

Permits expire and become void: 

  • On the 31st day after the approved construction start date stated on the permit, if work has not begun, or  

  • If the project in not being prosecuted diligently, or  

  • When the excavation, including the trench restoration, is not completed within the duration specified on the permit, or  

  • On the date specified on the permit as the expiration date. 


Noticing requirements

  • All excavation permits require a minimum 72 hour posting. 

  • Medium and Large excavation permits require a 10 day hanger and a 30 day notice to all fronting property owners and businesses.  


Committee for Utility Liaison on Construction & Other Projects (CULCOP)

A monthly meeting chaired by Public Works.  Its members include a representative from each City Agency and utility company who performs excavation work within the public right of way Admin. Code 5.63a.  CULCOP members are committed to coordinating street excavation, utility work, paving and other construction projects in the public right of way in order to minimize the impact of construction on our streets and in our neighborhoods.  Meetings are held the third Thursday of every month.  The public is welcome to attend.  

CULCOP meetings and discussions center on coordinating upcoming planned projects by utilizing the following tools:

  1. Envista: Public Works has a data mapping system known as Envista that is used by City Agencies and Utility Companies to coordinate major projects.  Please Note:  These reports and maps are for planning purposes only and are subject to change.
  2. Presentations: City Agencies regularly provide presentations for upcoming planned major capital projects. Click here to see information about recent projects presented at CULCOP.


Additional Information

Article 2.4 Public Works Code (Excavation Code) and DPW Order 178,940 regulate construction and paving on our streets.  CULCOP utilizes the Code and SF Public Works Guidelines for discussion purposes to ensure that the roadways are safe and properly restored.


For additional information contact:

San Francisco Public Works
Bureau of Street Use and Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor (Map)
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 554-5810