What is Planning?
Planning helps guide how a community grows and develops.
Planning considers the needs of all residents, looks at the big picture, and examines issues from all angles (social, environmental, hazard, physical).
Planning gives you choices.
Where you want to live
How you want to commute
The type of house you live in
Where you play or spend your leisure time
Planning benefits your community.
Maintains neighborhood character
Reduces environmental impacts
Provides protection from natural and man-made disasters
Preserves parks and open space
Helps determine where buildings, businesses, homes, and roads will be located (or sited).
What does the Planning Department do?
The San Francisco Planning Department engages citizens in an ongoing dialogue about San Francisco's future and plays a central role in guiding the long-term development of the built and natural environment. It is comprised of more than 125 staff who evaluate regional growth management policy, monitor and update the City's General Plan, ensure compliance of the Planning and Zoning codes, draft land use policy, and develop sub-area and urban design plans. The division also includes staff which guide and support the work of the San Francisco Planning Commission and the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission.
The Planning Department's principal activities are:
- Development and maintenance of the General Plan.
- The development of area plans based on the General Plan, to provide more specific guidance for the development of the various City areas.
- Reviewing of private development projects and proposed capital improvements projects and other physical projects involving City property for consistency and conformity with the General Plan.
- The formulation of planning policies and standards that will ensure a quality living and working environment for San Francisco neighborhoods and districts.
- Serving as an information center to assist citizens in understanding and applying to their property or to project proposals the policies of the General Plan and provisions of the Planning Code that might affect them.
- Anticipating and acting on the need for new plans, policies, and Planning Code changes.
- Applying the approved plans, policies, Planning Code and other regulations to proposed land use.
- Applying the Planning Code and applicable sections of the Administrative Code to applications for permits.
The Department is administered in a manner designed to fulfill the objectives of the General Plan, provide applicants with efficient permit processing services and provide citizens appropriate opportunities to participate in land use decisions.
Permits and the San Francisco Planning Code
Permits are required in San Francisco to operate businesses and to do construction activity. Depending upon what activities you are proposing, you may need to obtain permits from the Building Department, the Fire Department, the Health Department or the State Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The Planning Department reviews most applications for these permits in order to ensure that projects comply with the "Planning Code." View the Complete San Francisco Planning Code.
Visit the Planning Information Center (PIC)
Planners are available to assist you in understanding the Planning Code at the Planning Department's Information Center (PIC) at 1660 Mission Street (map) from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and on Wednesday from 10:15 AM to 5:00 PM. You may call in person or phone the information center at 415-558-6377 during these hours.