San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin will introduce legislation to create a temporary awning compliance program for all existing awnings. The ordinance creates a streamlined path that small business and property owners can follow through the end of 2023 to come into compliance, unless there are safety issues.
Over the last several months, nearly 200 small business owners have been subject to enforcement related to their existing awnings allegedly being out of compliance with certain codes after the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) received anonymous complaints about illegally installed business awnings throughout San Francisco. In response to this series of complaints, Mayor Breed and Board President Peskin announced in February they were working on creating a path business owners can follow to come into compliance before any enforcement action is taken.
“The program we are proposing today seeks to make it as easy as possible for the already overburdened small business community to address the high number of complaints targeted at them,” said Mayor London Breed. “This program is an example of the efficiencies we can achieve as City government when all of our agencies are working collaboratively to solve problems to support small businesses, which are essential for the vitality of our economy and our neighborhoods.”
“The amnesty program offers an easy and affordable way to bring awnings into compliance, ensures pedestrian safety, and protects small business owners from future complaints and violations related to their unpermitted awnings,” said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. “I want to thank the Mayor’s Office and the City’s permitting departments for their collaboration. I urge all affected owners to participate as soon as the forms are available, and please contact our office if you need help applying.”
Under the proposed awning compliance ordinance, existing awning owners can have their permit and inspection fees waived, so long as permit applications are submitted to the City before December 31, 2023. Penalty fees and fines related to Notices of Violation will also be waived under this program.
Small business and property owners with existing awnings will not need to hire a licensed contractor or sign installer to prepare professional drawings for the permit to document awning compliance, unless an awning poses a safety issue that must be addressed. DBI will instead provide a simplified template of required information for small businesses to document the existing awning structure, which will save businesses money and time.
“I’m grateful that the City recognized the anxiety that recent complaints have caused within our community and developed a path forward,” said Cynthia Huie, President of the Small Business Commission and President of the Clement Street Merchants Association.
Prior to the proposed ordinance, DBI deprioritized enforcement against complaints of awnings being out of compliance, except in the case of urgent life safety issues requiring immediate action. DBI also delayed compliance on enforcement for 180 days for any issues of notices of violation, except for in the case of urgent life safety issues.
Small businesses that need assistance with permitting can also reach out to the San Francisco Office of Small Business, the City’s central source of information for small businesses and a division of the Office of Economic & Workforce Development. Small Business Permit Specialists are available to guide small business owners through this awning compliance program and other permitting questions.
For more information, contact the Office of Small Business at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 628-652-4949, or visit sf.gov/OSB.