§ 138.1.

STREETSCAPE AND PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENTS

a.

Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish requirements for the improvement of the public right-of-way associated with development projects, such that the public right-of-way may be safe, accessible, convenient and attractive to pedestrian use and travel by all modes of transportation consistent with the San Francisco General Plan, achieve best practices in ecological stormwater management, and provide space for public life and social interaction, in accordance with the City’s “Better Streets Policy” (Administrative Code Section 98.1).

b.

Better Streets Plan.

1.

The Better Streets Plan, as defined in Administrative Code Section 98.1(e), shall govern the design, location, and dimensions of all pedestrian and streetscape items in the public right-of-way, including but not limited to those items shown in Table 1. Development projects that propose or are required through this section to make pedestrian and streetscape improvements to the public right-of-way shall conform with the principles and guidelines for those elements as set forth in the Better Streets Plan to the maximum extent feasible.

2.

Proposed improvements also shall be subject to approval by other city bodies with permitting jurisdiction over such streetscape improvements.

Table 1: Pedestrian and Streetscape Elements per the Better Streets Plan



# PHYSICAL ELEMENT BETTERSTREETSPLANSECTION
1 Curb ramps* 5.1
2 Marked crosswalks* 5.1
3 Pedestrian-priority signal devices and timings 5.1
4 High-visibility crosswalks 5.1
5 Special crosswalk treatments 5.1
6 Restrictions on vehicle turning movements at crosswalks 5.1
7 Removal or reduction of permanent crosswalk closures 5.1
8 Mid-block crosswalks 5.1
9 Raised crosswalks 5.1
10 Curb radius guidelines 5.2
11 Corner curb extensions or bulb-outs* 5.3
12 Extended bulb-outs 5.3
13 Mid-block bulb-outs 5.3
14 Center or side medians 5.4
15 Pedestrian refuge islands 5.4
16 Transit bulb-outs 5.5
17 Transit boarding islands 5.5
18 Flexible use of the parking lane 5.6
19 Parking lane planters 5.6
20 Chicanes 5.7
21 Traffic calming circles 5.7
22 Modern roundabouts 5.7
23 Sidewalk or median pocket parks 5.8
24 Reuse of ‘pork chops’ and excess right-of-way 5.8
25 Multi-way boulevard treatments 5.8
26 Shared public ways 5.8
27 Pedestrian-only streets 5.8
28 Public stairs 5.8
29 Street trees* 6.1
30 Tree basin furnishings* 6.1
31 Sidewalk planters* 6.1
32 Above-ground landscaping 6.1
33 Stormwater management tools* 6.2
34 Street and pedestrian lighting* 6.3
35 Special paving* 6.4
36 Site furnishings* 6.5
Standard streetscape elements marked with a *. (Requirement varies by street type: see the Better Streets Plan)

c.

Required streetscape and pedestrian improvements. Development projects shall include streetscape and pedestrian improvements on all publicly accessible rights-of-way directly fronting the property as follows:

1.

Street trees.

i.

Application. In any District, street trees shall be required under the following conditions: construction of a new building; relocation of a building; the addition of gross floor area equal to 20 percent or more of the gross floor area of an existing building; the addition of a new dwelling unit, a garage, or additional parking; or paving or repaving more than 200 square feet of the front setback.

ii.

Standards.

A.

All districts. In any district, street trees shall:

aa.

Comply with Public Works Code Article 16 and any other applicable ordinances;

bb.

Be suitable for the site;

cc.

Be a minimum of one tree of 24-inch box size for each 20 feet of frontage of the property along each street or alley, with any remaining fraction of 10 feet or more of frontage requiring an additional tree. Such trees shall be located either within a setback area on the lot or within the public right-of-way along such lot.

dd.

Provide a below-grade environment with nutrient-rich soils, free from overly-compacted soils, and generally conducive to tree root development;

ee.

Be watered, maintained and replaced if necessary by the property owner, in accordance with Sec. 174 and Article 16 of the Public Works Code and compliant with applicable water use requirements of Chapter 63 of the Administrative Code.

B.

DTR, RC, C, NC and Mixed-Use Districts, and Planned Unit Developments. In DTR, RC, C, NC and Mixed-Use Districts, and Planned Unit Developments, in addition to the requirements of subsections (aa)  – (ee) above, all street trees shall:

aa.

Have a minimum 2 inch caliper, measured at breast height;

bb.

Branch a minimum of 80 inches above sidewalk grade;

cc.

Be planted in a sidewalk opening at least 16 square feet, and have a minimum soil depth of 3 feet 6 inches;

dd.

Include street tree basins edged with decorative treatment, such as pavers or cobbles. Edging features may be counted toward the minimum sidewalk opening per (cc) if they are permeable surfaces per Section 102.33.

C.

Street trees shall be planted in a continuous soil-filled trench parallel to the curb, such that the basin for each tree is connected, if all the following conditions are present: (1) the subject lot is in one of the Districts specified in Subsection 138.1(c)(1)(ii)(B); (2) the project is on a lot that (a) is greater than 1/2-acre in total area, (b) contains 250 feet of total lot frontage on one or more publicly-accessible rights-of-way, or (c) the frontage encompasses the entire block face between the nearest two intersections with any other publicly-accessible rights-of-way, and (3) the project includes (a) new construction; (b) addition of 20% or more of gross floor area to an exiting building; or (c) alteration to greater than 50% of the existing square footage of a building.

aa.

The trench may be covered by allowable permeable surfaces as defined in Section 102.33, except at required tree basins, where the soil must remain uncovered.

bb.

The Zoning Administrator may modify or waive the continuous trench requirement where a continuous trench is not possible due to the location of existing utilities, driveways, sub-sidewalk basements, or other pre-existing surface or sub-surface features.

iii.

Approvals and waivers.

A.

Trees installed in the public right-of-way shall be subject to Department of Public Works approval. Procedures and other requirements for the installation, maintenance and protection of trees in the public right-of-way shall be as set forth in Article 16 of the Public Works Code.

B.

In any case in which the Department of Public Works cannot grant approval for installation of a tree in the public right-of-way, on the basis of inadequate sidewalk width, interference with utilities or other reasons regarding the public welfare, and where installation of such tree on the lot itself is impractical, the tree planting requirements of this Section 138.1(c)(1) may be modified or waived by the Zoning Administrator as described herein:

aa.

For each required tree that the Zoning Administrator waives, the permittee shall pay an “in-lieu” street tree fee pursuant to Section 428.

bb.

When a pre-existing site constraint prevents the installation of a street tree, as an alternative to payment of any portion of the in-lieu fee, the Zoning Administrator may allow the installation of sidewalk landscaping that is compliant with applicable water use requirements of Chapter 63 of the Administrative Code, to satisfy the requirements of Section 138.1(c)(1), subject to permit approval from the Department of Public Works in accordance with Public Works Code Section 810B.

cc.

In C-3, industrial, and South of Market Mixed Use Districts, the Zoning Administrator may allow the installation of planter boxes or tubs or similar landscaping in place of trees when that is determined to be more desirable in order to make the landscaping compatible with the character of the surrounding area, or may waive the requirement in C-3, industrial, and mixed use districts, districts where landscaping is considered to be inappropriate because it conflicts with policies of the Downtown Plan, a component of the General Plan, such as the Downtown Plan Policy favoring unobstructed pedestrian passage or the Commerce and Industry Element policies to facilitate industry.

2.

Other streetscape and pedestrian elements for large projects.

i.

Application.

A.

In any district, streetscape and pedestrian elements in conformance with the Better Streets Plan shall be required, if all the following conditions are present: (1) the project is on a lot that (a) is greater than ½-acre in total area, (b) contains 250 feet of total lot frontage on one or more publicly-accessible rights-of-way, or (c) the frontage encompasses the entire block face between the nearest two intersections with any other publicly-accessible rights-of-way, and (2) the project includes (a) new construction; (b) addition of 20% or more of gross floor area to an exiting building; or (c) alteration to greater than 50% of the existing square footage of a building.

B.

Project sponsors that meet the thresholds of this Subsection shall submit a streetscape plan to the Planning Department showing the location, design, and dimensions of all existing and proposed streetscape elements in the public right-of-way directly adjacent to the fronting property, including street trees, sidewalk landscaping, street lighting, site furnishings, utilities, driveways, and curb lines, and the relation of such elements to proposed new construction and site work on the subject property.

ii.

Standards. Notwithstanding the requirements of Section 138.1(c)(2)(i), the Department shall consider, but need not require, the streetscape and pedestrian elements listed below when analyzing a streetscape plan:

A.

Standard streetscape elements. All standard streetscape elements for the appropriate street type per Table 1 and the Better Streets Plan, including benches, bicycle racks, curb ramps, corner curb extensions, stormwater facilities, lighting, sidewalk landscaping, special sidewalk paving, and other site furnishings, excepting crosswalks and pedestrian signals.

aa.

Streetscape elements shall be selected from a City-approved palette of materials and furnishings, where applicable, and shall be subject to approval by all applicable City agencies.

bb.

Streetscape elements shall be consistent with the overall character and materials of the district, and shall have a logical transition or termination to the sidewalk and/or roadway adjacent to the fronting property.

B.

Sidewalk widening. The Planning Department in consultation with other agencies shall evaluate whether sufficient roadway space is available for sidewalk widening for the entirety or a portion of the fronting public right-of-way in order to meet or exceed the recommended sidewalk widths for the appropriate street type per Table 2 and the Better Streets Plan and/or to provide additional space for pedestrian and streetscape amenities. If it is found that sidewalk widening is feasible and desirable, the Planning Department shall require the owner or developer to install such sidewalk widening as a condition of approval, including all associated utility re-location, drainage, and street and sidewalk paving.

C.

Minimum sidewalk width. New publicly-accessible rights-of-way proposed as part of development projects shall meet or exceed the recommended sidewalk widths for the appropriate street type per Table 2. Where a consistent front building setback of 3 feet or greater extending for at least an entire block face is provided, the recommended sidewalk width may be reduced by up to 2 feet.

Table 2. Recommended Sidewalk Widths by Street Type



Street Type (per Better Streets Plan) Recommended Sidewalk Width (Minimum required for new streets)
Commercial Downtown commercial See Downtown Streetscape Plan
- Commercial throughway 15′
- Neighborhood commercial 15′
Residential Downtown residential 15′
- Residential throughway 15′
- Neighborhood residential 12′
Industrial/Mixed-Use Industrial 10′
- Mixed-use 15′
Special Parkway 17′
- Park edge (multi-use path) 25′
- Multi-way boulevard 15′
- Ceremonial varies
Small Alley 9′
- Shared public way n/a
- Paseo varies

iii.

Review and approvals.

A.

The streetscape plan required by this section shall be submitted to the Planning Department no later than 60 days prior to any Department or Planning Commission approval action, and shall be considered for approval at the time of other project approval actions. The Planning Department may require any or all standard streetscape elements for the appropriate street type per Table 1 and the Better Streets Plan, if it finds that these improvements are necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the General Plan of the City and County of San Francisco. In making its determination about required streetscape and pedestrian elements, the Planning Department shall consult with other City agencies tasked with the design, permitting, use, and maintenance of the public right-of-way.

B.

Final approval by the affected agencies and construction of such streetscape improvements shall be completed prior to the issuance of the first Certificate of Occupancy or temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the project, unless otherwise extended by the Zoning Administrator. Should conditions, policies, or determinations by other City agencies require a change to the streetscape plan after approval of the streetscape plan but prior to commencement of construction of the streetscape improvements, the Planning Department shall have the authority to require revision to such streetscape plan. In such case, the Zoning Administrator shall extend the timeframe for completion of such improvements by an appropriate duration as necessary.

C.

Waiver. Any City agency tasked with the design, permitting, use, and maintenance of the public right-of-way, may waive any or all Department required improvements of the streetscape plan as described in this Subsection under that agency’s jurisdiction if said agency determines that such improvement or improvements is inappropriate, interferes with utilities to an extent that makes installation financially infeasible, or would negatively affect the public welfare. Any such waiver shall be from the Director or General Manager of the affected agency, shall be in writing to the applicant and the Department, and shall specify the basis for the waiver. Waivers, if any, shall be obtained prior to commencement of construction of the streetscape improvements unless extenuating circumstances arise during the construction of said improvements. If such a waiver is granted, the Department reserves the right to impose alternative requirements that are the same as or similar to the elements in the adopted streetscape plan after consultation with the affected agency. This Subsection shall not apply to the waiver of the street tree requirement set forth in Section 138.1(c)(1).

d.

Neighborhood Streetscape Plans. In addition to the requirements listed in Subsection 138.1(c), the Planning Department in coordination with other city agencies, and after a public hearing, may adopt streetscape plans for particular streets, neighborhoods, and districts, containing standards and guidelines to supplement the Better Streets Plan. Development projects in areas listed in this subsection that propose or are required through this section to make pedestrian and streetscape improvements to the public right-of-way shall conform with the standards and guidelines in the applicable neighborhood streetscape plan in addition to those found in the Better Streets Plan.

1.

Downtown Streetscape Plan.

ii.

In any C-3 District sidewalk paving as set forth in the Downtown Streetscape Plan shall be installed by the applicant under the following conditions:

A.

Any new construction;

B.

The addition of floor area equal to 20 percent or more of an existing building; or

C.

Alteration to greater than 50% of the existing square footage of a building.

iii.

In accordance with the provisions of Section 309 of the Planning Code governing C-3 Districts, when a permit is granted for any project abutting a public sidewalk in a C-3 District, the Planning Commission may impose additional requirements that the applicant install sidewalk improvements such as benches, bicycle racks, lighting, special paving, seating, landscaping, and sidewalk widening in accordance with the guidelines of the Downtown Streetscape Plan if it finds that these improvements are necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the General Plan of the City and County of San Francisco. In making this determination, the Planning Commission shall consider the level of street as defined in the Downtown Streetscape Plan.

iv.

If a sidewalk widening or a pedestrian street improvement is used to meet the open space requirement, it shall conform to the guidelines of Section 138.

v.

The Planning Commission shall determine whether the streetscape improvements required by this Section may be on the same site as the building for which the permit is being sought, or within 900 feet, provided that all streetscape improvements are located entirely within the C-3 District.

2.

Rincon Hill Streetscape Plan.

i.

In the Rincon Hill Downtown Residential Mixed Use (RH-DTR) and Folsom and Main Residential/Commercial Special Use Districts, the boundaries of which are shown in Section Map No. 1 of the Zoning Map, for all frontages abutting a public sidewalk, the project sponsor is required to install sidewalk widening, street trees, lighting, decorative paving, seating and landscaping in accordance with the Streetscape Plan of the Rincon Hill Area Plan, developed by the Planning Department and approved by the Board of Supervisors for: (A) any new construction; (B) the addition of floor area equal to 20 percent or more of an existing building; or (C) alteration to greater than 50% of the existing square footage of a building.

ii.

Prior to approval by the Board of Supervisors of a Streetscape Plan for Rincon Hill, the Planning Commission, through the procedures of Section 309.1, shall require an applicant to install sidewalk widening, street trees, lighting, decorative paving, seating, and landscaping in keeping with the intent of the Rincon Hill Area Plan of the General Plan and in accordance with this section of the Planning Code.

e.

Additional provisions.

1.

Maintenance. Unless otherwise determined, fronting property owners shall maintain all streetscape improvements required by this section, including street trees, landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, special paving, and other site furnishings at no public expense per the requirements of Public Works Code Section 706 (sidewalks and site furnishings) and 805 (street trees), except for standard street lighting from a City-approved palette of street lights and any improvements within the roadway. Conditions intended to assure continued maintenance of the improvements for the actual lifetime of the building giving rise to the streetscape improvement requirement may be imposed as a condition of approval by the Planning Department.

2.

For any streetscape and/or pedestrian improvements installed pursuant to this section, the abutting property owner or owners shall hold harmless the City and County of San Francisco, its officers, agents, and employees, from any damage or injury caused by reason of the design, construction or maintenance of the improvements, and shall require the owner or owners or subsequent owner or owners of the respective property to be solely liable for any damage or loss occasioned by any act. This requirement shall be deemed satisfied if City permits for the improvements include indemnification and hold harmless provisions.

3.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this Section, an applicant shall apply for and obtain all required permits and approvals for changes to the legislated sidewalk widths and street improvements.

History

(Added by Ord. 314-95, App. 10/6/95; Ord. 310-10, File No. 101194, App. 12/16/2010)

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