Zoning for businesses

Before you commit to a location, every location has zoning laws defining where you can or can’t legally operate a business. The SF Planning Department enforces these zoning regulations (called the Planning Code), reviews projects and proposals for compliance, and issues certain permits.

Zoning check

The Planning Department gives an overview of the permitting and zoning process on their site and offers a number of resources, including those below, to help you understand and comply with San Francisco's zoning rules.

Find My Zoning

The SF Planning Department’s Find My Zoning page provides detailed information on zoning rules, how they apply to your business, and how you can follow them. 

Property Information Map

The Planning Department’s online Property Information Map allows you to see what codes apply to your property and what permits may have been issued on your property in the past.

Planning Information Center (PIC) 

Professional planners are available at an information desk in the Planning Department every weekday to answer questions about permits, zoning and land use, neighborhood and area plans, and more. You can email, call, or visit them in person at the Planning Information Center.

How-To Guides

The Department also offers permitting How-To Guides for most project types. These guides are a great place to start if you are new to the zoning and permitting process. You can find a few of the most common guides in the Featured Resources on this page.

Featured Resources

CB3P Community Business Priority Processing Program

The CB3P streamlines the Conditional Use process for certain small and mid-sized business applications. Projects that qualify for, and enroll in, the CB3P are guaranteed (1) a hearing date within 90 days of filing and (2) placement on the Planning Commission’s consent calendar.

Guide to building expansion (Change of Use – Commercial or Industrial)

SF Planning Department Guide to building expansion and/or change of use project in a commercial district.

Guide to starting a restaurant / food service

SF Planning Department Guide to Restaurants and other Food Establishments. If you're planning to open a restaurant establishment (i.e. food service use), your project will require a Building Permit Application. A restaurant’s location, size, and number of other locations can all affect how it will be regulated.

Guide to food trucks / open air sales (Temporary Use – Mobile Food Facility on Private Property)

SF Planning Department Guide to Temporary Use for Food Trucks. Temporary uses are uses of land on a particular property for a limited period of time. The Planning Department regulates these temporary uses using the Temporary Use Authorization (TUA) Application.

Guide to sign permits

SF Planning Department Guide to obtaining a Sign Permit. Includes information on erecting, re-erecting, painting, posting, applying, altering, or structurally repairing signs.

Guide to opening a chain store (Formula Retail)

SF Planning Department Guide to the rules and regulations for opening a "chain store" (Formula Retail) in San Francisco.

Last updated July 12, 2022