Awning Program for Small Businesses
My fellow San Franciscans,
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, Board President Aaron Peskin and I introduced 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 before any enforcement action is taken, unless there are safety issues.
The program 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 and it 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.
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.
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, you can contact the Office of Small Business at [email protected], call 628-652-
4949, or visit sf.gov/OSB.
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London N. Breed