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City and County of San Francisco

December 7, 2006 - DBI Joint Hearing

December 7, 2006 DBI Joint Hearing






Board of Supervisors Chambers - Room 250

City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Thursday, December 7, 2006

6:00 PM


COMMISSIONER PRESENT: Alexander, Olague, Antonini, S. Lee, W. Lee, Moore and Sugaya



COMMISSIONER PRESENT: Walker, Lee, Grubb, Hirsch, Murphy, Romero, and Theriault



PLANNING STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Dean Macris – Director of Planning, Larry Badiner – Zoning Administrator, Amit Ghosh – Chief Planner, Craig Nikitas, Sarah Dennis, and Linda Avery – Commission Secretary.


1. Discussion regarding better coordination between the Building and Planning Departments to ensure timely review, consistent code interpretations, implementation of zoning decisions and conditions of approval (including conditions from both Planning and the Board of Appeals), and accurate construction valuation for taxation purposes and fee collection. This will include discussion about the computer system coordination.


Barbara Schultheis, Fire Marshall of San Francisco

- I want to commend both Commissions for meeting to discuss important issues.

- I ask that the Fire Department be included in this process because we enforce both the Building and Fire Codes.

- There are ten item or less that come up repeatedly. I would like to propose that the code interpretations on those issues be in writing for all staff.

Joseph Wayla

- I have a project that I'm developing on Texas Avenue.

- I ask that the process for determining historical value be simplified by putting the burden on the Planning Department and not on the individual.

Henry Karnilowicz

- Two issues to discuss: one being the permit tracking system and the fact that if there is an address for a numbered street or avenue the information will not show up on the website.

- Discretionary reviews should go back to the way they were several years ago by having an administrative hearing at DBI to determine if the project should have to go to Planning or be heard at the Board of Appeals.

Alan Martinez

- Two items of concern: the first being the lack of adequate field inspection of the conditions of the Planning Code; and the second being good comprehensive review after the major process of the site permit is completed.


- My project is still not completed after four years. The unit count was changed from three units to one unit and the Building Inspection Department has made it impossible to complete the project.

- I refused to pay bribes to building officials and DBI had filed a frivolous lawsuit against me.

Jeremy Paul

- The only buildings where City phone numbers are blocked are at 1650 and 1660 Mission Street, which does not allow the person being called to know where the calls are coming from. Please have this changed.

- It is very important that the two departments have a unified computer system with accurate, up to the minute permit tracking.

Bruce Bonnacker

- I would encourage the inclusion of all City departments involved with the approval of private projects in these joint meetings.

- The web information has improved but once a permit has been issued there is no further tracking for expired permits, etc.

- The computer compatibility and consistent data entry for all departments is a very important issue.

Mike Rubin

- Introduced himself as a friend of Crystal Lei and spoke in favor of the approval of her project.

Tony Fu

- Asked that the Commissions intervene to assist Ms. Crystal Lei in getting approval of her project without the requirement of a variance.

Megan Mussbag

- I represent mostly single family home owners and ask that the Commissions work with the departments to promote better communication.

- There should be more training of the plan checkers who determine when a project has to go to planning because this adds on $400 to simple projects.

- Suggested that there be more information online so that the public knows what to bring with them and what to expect when they need to file for a permit.

Sue Hestor

- Supported the Fire Marshall's statement about inclusion.

- Planning throws away 311 notices and DBI throws away original applications if they have been amended. Then there is no record.

- Somewhere or somehow there should be a way to track final inspections because many times a project manager does not call for a final inspection so any changes to the project are not caught and the assessment of the property stays the same.

- When a permit expires, there is no way to monitor conditional uses. There needs to be a much better system of monitoring in both departments.

Charles Marsteller

- Suggested that when the project sponsor agrees with the City's conditions, the developer should then provide certification to the City that all conditions are met.

ACTION: Discussion Only. No Action required of the joint Commissions.

2. Discussion regarding the different permit review process for alterations versus demolitions, serial or substantial alteration permits that may result in the effective demolition of a building, and circumstances that may warrant an emergency demolition.


Felton Kinney

- Emergency demolitions are very rare because the threshold for obtaining one is so high. The response of the departments should be swift in the cases of emergency demolition because of public safety.

- They should come under the exclusive purview of DBI.

Bruce Bonnacker

- The State Historical Building Code should be suggested at pre-application meetings.

- I have concerns about historical buildings in a post earthquake situation where the historical information should be available to field inspectors.

Sue Hestor

- Pre-application meetings should have notes attached to the files.

- It would be helpful if projects requiring 311- 312 Notices should be color coded or marked in some way in files and on the computers.

Henry Karnilowicz

- There is difficulty in the field when there is damage to a portion of a building that requires further demolition and you want to avoid an unlawful demolition.

Jeremy Paul

- The form 3-8 is obsolete and permits should be done on-line and be flexible for the needs of the applicant and the department to be detectable.

- I echo the concerns about the affordable housing stock in the event of a disaster. Some sort of joint department agency should work on a solution to that.

ACTION: Discussion Only. No Action required of the joint Commissions.

3. Discussion regarding cross training both DBI and Planning Department plan checkers and inspectors to make them more familiar with the codes enforced by the other Departments.


ACTION: Discussion Only. No Action required of the joint Commissions.

4. Discussion on seismic standards, seismic safety initiatives and potential effects on Planning and Building Codes.


Charles Marsteller

- Showed a map of San Francisco from the U.S. Geological Survey and urged both Departments and Commissions to keep uppermost in everyone's minds that the greatest consideration for land use in San Francisco should be seismic.

Joan Girardo

- There is a need to have the seismic strengthening of sea walls in the Building Code, particularly in the Marina District and the renovation of the Marina Yacht Harbor.

Rufino DeLeon

- I have concerns about abandoned buildings in the City, particularly on Market Street and I question the seismic safety of those buildings.

Fire Marshall Barbara Schultheis

- Elevator safety for super tall high rises is not covered in the Building Code and the Fire Department was looking at Code Amendments to cover this issue.

Bruce Bonnacker

- Because of State law, buildings damaged in an earthquake and then demolished would not be subject to Rent Control laws.

- I urge both Commissions to look into this problem before there is an earthquake.

Sue Hestor

- Planning Commission should have the U.S. Geological Survey and a San Francisco landslide maps in front of the Commissioners at all meetings because these issues often get lost in the mounds of paperwork that is presented.

Emeric Kalman

- Asked about the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety. I participated for four years in the CAPSS program and for political reasons it had been interrupted without producing a final document.

- The State granted $800,000 for that study and where did the money go?

ACTION: Discussion Only. No Action required of the joint Commissions.

Adjournment: 10:17 P.M.



ACTION: Approved

AYES: Alexander, Olague, Antonini, S. Lee, W. Lee, Moore and Sugaya

NOTE: Per Section 67.18 of the Administrative Code for the City and County of San Francisco, Commission minutes contain a description of the item before the Commission for discussion/consideration; a list of the public speakers with names if given, and a summary of their comments including an indication of whether they are in favor of or against the matter; and any action the Commission takes. The minutes are not the official record of a Commission hearing. The audiotape is the official record. Copies of the audiotape may be obtained by calling the Commission office at (415) 558-6415. For those with access to a computer and/or the Internet, Commission hearings are available at Under the heading Explore, the category Government, and the City Resources section, click on SFGTV, then Video on Demand. You may select the hearing date you want and the item of your choice for a replay of the hearing.

Last updated: 11/23/2009 12:21:00 PM