Check commercial construction requirements

Check our required processes to apply for a building permit for a commercial project.

Accessible Business Entrance (ABE)

All property owners must follow the federal accessibility rules. The City ABE program helps you follow these rules.

Properties with public accommodations, like offices, restaurants, hotels, daycare centers and shops, must follow the Accessible Business Entrance (ABE) program. 

You must have a licensed architect, licensed engineer, or Certified Access Specialist (CASp) complete the Category Checklist Compliance Form. Upload it with your building permit application or bring it to your appointment.

See more in DA-17.

Waivers

You may apply for a waiver If your property is a:

  • Residential building
  • Live/work unit
  • Commercial condo above the ground floor

Fill out this form to apply for a waiver. Upload it with your building permit application or bring it to your appointment.

Exemption

You can apply for an exemption to the ABE if:

  • The building was built after 2002
  • The building or business is a recognized religious organization
  • The building or business is a private club

Fill out this form to apply for an exemption. Upload it with your building permit application or bring it to your appointment.

Cannabis

If your project includes the sale, distribution, or on-site consumption of cannabis, follow this guide to cannabis permitting.

Chain stores or formula retail

Follow this guide for permitting a chain store in San Francisco.

Change of use

Changes of use depend on the zoning district and any other Special Use District overlays. Some changes of use can be processed over the counter. If your project requires neighborhood notification or a conditional use authorization at the Planning Commission, it will have to be reviewed in-house.

If you are changing the use of the property, you must fill out our Affidavit for Formula Retail Establishments.

See more guidance in the Small Business Portal and check your zone in this tool.

Child care facility

Fill out a drop-off and pick-up management plan for a new child care facility or school.

This is only required if your child care facility or school will have 30 or more students or a location 1,500 square feet or greater.

Upload it with your building permit application or bring it to your appointment.

Commercial Tenant improvements

All tenant improvements require building permits.

Other agencies, including the Planning Department, Fire Department, and Health Department may need to review the permit depending on the scope of work. 

Planning Project Application (PRJ)

If your project requires neighborhood notification or any land use entitlements (such as a Variance or Conditional Use Authorization) , you must fill out a Project Application (PRJ)

Download it and fill it out. Upload it with your building permit application or bring it to your appointment.

Restaurants

All new restaurants must follow steps with the Planning review process, the Health Department’s permitting process, SFPUC, and building permits.

The City has 2 categories of restaurants: 

  • Limited Restaurants where there are no alcoholic beverages served on-site
  • Restaurants which allow alcoholic beverages to be served on-site

Changing your business to a Limited Restaurant or Restaurant is considered a change of use.

Forms for restaurants

Water use

Fill out water use forms.

Wireless providers

You must get land use approval for a wireless project in San Francisco. Follow these steps to install or modify a wireless service facility. 

For modifications to existing facilities that are considered an eligible facility under Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, applicants must submit the following in addition to a Building Permit Application and Plans:

  • PRJ application for Planning
  • Photo simulations
  • Radio Frequency report
  • Department of Public Health approval letter
  • Coverage maps
  • A written 6409 request letter 

For new sites, a Conditional Use Authorization (CUA) from the Planning Department may be required.

Email CPC.Wireless@sfgov.org with questions and to determine if you need a CUA.

Last updated November 16, 2022