The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that provides the public with a final administrative review process for appeals relating to a wide range of City determinations. Originally created under the Charter of 1932, the Board strives to provide an efficient, fair and expeditious public hearing and decision-making process before an impartial panel as a last step in the City's permit issuance process.
The Board hears and decides appeals involving the granting, denial, suspension, or revocation of permits, licenses, and other use entitlements by various City commissions and departments. The granting or denial of variances and other determinations by the Zoning Administrator, and discretionary review decisions and downtown building authorizations of the Planning Commission are included.
As the Board of Appeals hears and decides cases, we strive to provide an efficient, fair and expeditious public hearing and decision-making process before an impartial panel. We are the last step in the City’s review process.
The Board of Appeals is made up of 5 Board members appointed for staggered 4-year terms. 3 members are appointed by the Mayor and 2 by the President of the Board of Supervisors.
The Board office is staffed by an Executive Director, Legal Assistant and 3 Clerks.
When an appeal is filed, Board members will conduct a public hearing on the appeal, listening to arguments and testimony from the appellants, permit holders, Department representatives, neighbors, and members of the public. The Board then votes to either uphold the underlying departmental determination, impose conditions on the determination, or overrule the determination.
Limitations on the Board’s jurisdiction
The Board of Appeals has no jurisdiction over permits issued by the Recreation and Park Department or Commission. We do not hear appeals of criminal, domestic relations, or other areas regulated by the State of California or the federal government.
It has limited jurisdiction over certain permits issued by the Port Commission, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding. Its jurisdiction is derived from San Francisco Charter Section 4.106, by provisions in Article 1 of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code, and other City ordinances. Building and demolition permits that are issued pursuant to Conditional Use authorization by the Planning Commission may not be appealed to the Board of Appeals. (S.F. Charter Section 4.106(b).) Appeals of the underlying Conditional Use authorization may be made to the Board of Supervisors but the building or demolition permit may not be appealed to any City government body. The Board of Appeals has no authority to make amendments to the Planning Code or the Zoning Map, and has no authority to grant Conditional Use authorization. The Planning Department and Planning Commission handle these procedures.