What to do
These rules govern the administration of Director’s Hearings held by the Department of Public Health.
1. Hearing Officer
The Director of Health (“Director”) will appoint a hearing officer to preside over hearings. The hearing officer shall be fair and impartial, without any personal interest in the outcome of the appeal.
2. Regular Hearings
The Director’s Hearings are open to the public and are held as scheduled on the third Thursday of each month at 1:00 PM. Unless otherwise noted, hearings are held either virtually using WebEx, or in-person at 101 Grove Street, Room 300. Additional hearings may be scheduled on other dates and times to accommodate program needs.
3. Special Hearings
Subject to the provision of appropriate notice, the Director may call a special hearing at any time.
4. Hearing Cancellation
The Director may cancel any regular or special hearing when notified that there is insufficient business to be conducted or for other reasons. In case of cancellation, parties and members of the public will be notified as soon as reasonably possible that the hearing has been cancelled, and a notice of the cancelled hearing will be posted conspicuously on or near the door of the hearing place prior to the scheduled time of the hearing.
5. Notice of Hearing
Notification of the hearing date and time shall be made in the manner required by the applicable Code. Where the Code does not specify a method of providing notice of the hearing, the Department shall serve a copy of the Notice of Hearing in person, by First Class mail, or by electronic mail, at least 10 calendar days prior to the date set for the hearing.
6. Date of Hearing
Appeals and other matters to be considered by the Director shall be scheduled for hearing consistent with the timeline required by the applicable Code. Where the applicable Code does not specify a date by which a hearing must be scheduled, the Department shall schedule the hearing within 60 days of receipt of the request for hearing. Announcement at a Director’s Hearing of the time and place to which a Director’s Hearing is rescheduled or continued shall be deemed sufficient notice and no other notice shall be required for any such rescheduled or continued hearing.
7. Hearing Continuation
At the Director’s discretion, a scheduled hearing may be continued to the next available date on request.
8. Order of Agenda
The Hearing Secretary will set the order in which cases will be heard.
At the outset of the hearing, the hearing officer will ask all persons who intend to provide testimony to swear or affirm that they will tell the truth, under penalty of perjury.
10. Written Submittals
The parties may submit written briefing in advance of the hearing, provided the written submittals meet the following requirements:
- Length. written submittals may be no more than 8 pages, double spaced, and may include an unlimited number of exhibits.
- Exhibits. Exhibits may include photographs, maps, drawings, or any other information that is relevant to the appeal.
- Deadline. Written submittals are optional, but must be delivered no later than four business days prior to the hearing. For example, if a hearing is scheduled to be held at 1 PM on a Thursday, the written submittal must be delivered by no later than 1 PM on the Friday prior to the hearing. A printed copy of the written submittal must be delivered to Department of Public Health Environmental Health Branch 49 South Van Ness Avenue, Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94103 or delivered electronically to Hearing Secretary Monica.Elias@sfdph.org.
- Delivery to opposing party. Where the Department of Public Health has an electronic mail address for the responsible party, it will send a copy of its written submittals to that party by electronic mail. Where the Department of Public Health does not have an electronic address for the responsible party, it will make a copy of its written submittal available for pickup by the appellant at 49 South Van Ness Avenue, Suite 600. Or, on request, the Department of Public Health may send a copy of its written submittal to the mail delivery address listed on the appellant’s request for hearing.
11. Order and Time Limits of Presentations
Except when the Hearing Officer finds good cause to order the presentations and time allotment otherwise, the order of presentation of an appeal shall be as follows:
- In all cases, the Environmental Health manager, inspector or other staff shall speak first and shall be allowed seven minutes to present a timeline of events, relevant testimony, evidence and a recommendation.
- Next, the applicant or responsible party shall be allowed seven minutes for presentation of relevant testimony and evidence.
- Three minutes for rebuttal shall be provided to each party, in this same order.
The Hearing Officer may increase the amount of time given to the parties, as circumstances warrant and in the interest of fairness. The Hearing Secretary will manage the clock and time allowed for each speaker. A tone will designate the end of each allotted speaking period.
12. Rules of Evidence
Hearings need not be conducted according to the technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if it is reasonably reliable. Hearsay evidence is admissible and may be used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining any direct evidence, but shall not be sufficient in itself to support a finding unless it would be admissible over objection in civil actions in courts of competent jurisdiction, or if the party against whom it is offered does not object. Irrelevant and unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded.
Each party may call and examine witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing. The hearing officer may consider the credibility of witnesses.
14. Language interpretation services
If interpretive services are required they must be requested four business days prior to the scheduled hearing. For example, for a hearing at 1 PM on a Thursday, request for interpreter must be made by 1 PM on the previous Friday. Appellants may request translation services by contacting Hearing Secretary Monica.Elias@sfdph.org.
15. Hearing decision
The Director will render a final decision within 30 days of the hearing unless the applicable code imposes or allows a different timeframe. The decision will be in writing and sent to the responsible party by first class mail or by electronic mail. The decision shall contain findings of fact, and a determination of the issues presented.
16. Audio Recording
The Hearing Secretary will record the audio of the hearing and this recording is the administrative record for each hearing. NOTE: Remote online hearings will be audio AND video recorded.
Last updated March 7, 2023