San Francisco projects without public notifications

Many projects in San Francisco require public notifications which include demolition, new construction, change in use, exterior alteration or building expansions in residential and some commercial zone areas but there are some exceptions as indicated below.

DORMERS:

Dormers can be added to the attic to create additional usable space without public notifications under the following conditions.
(1) The dormer and all other roof features combined area is less than 20% of the roof area.
(2) The maximum plan dimension of the dormer is 8 feet by 8 feet and setback minimum 3 feet from the side property line.
(3) The dormer setback 10 feet from the front building wall.
(4) The dormer cannot be higher than the peak of the roof.

LIGHWELLS INFILL:

When the lightwell at the property line is against your neighbor’s wall and the lightwell is not visible from any offsite location, and the lightwell is not higher than 10 feet above the neighbor’s ground, then the lightwell infill can be approve without public notification. The Planning Department will need a set of reduced drawings signed by the adjacent owner or tenant. If the proposed lightwell infill is visible from any off-site location, then the public notification is required.

ADDITION BELOW:

When you have a floor supported by columns and the open space below does not exceed one story or twelve feet, you can enclose the open space below without public notifications assuming that the floor above is legal.

DECKS:

An open deck can be built without notifications in RH and RM districts under the following conditions:
(1) The deck does not encroach into the required rear yard.
(2) When the deck is less than 10 feet above ground.
(3) If the building code requires a one hour fire wall, then the one hour fire wall needs to be less than 10 feet in height for the deck or stair leading to the deck.

STAIR REPLACEMENT:

Older building may have the Building Code required egress stair located in the required open space. If the replacement stair is within the same footprint and height of the old stair or minimum required by the current Building Code, then the replacement stair can be exempt from notification. The exemption does not apply to new fire wall when the original stair did not have a fire wall, unless the entire firewall is located next to a blank wall of the adjacent neighbor.

The above 5 exceptions summarizes most but not all the rules, for a complete list of rules and regulations please see San Francisco Planning Department Zoning Administrator Bulletin Number 4.

The Clarendon house, San Francisco, California

The Clarendon house is a 25 foot wide zero lot line property situated on the northern slope of Twin Peaks. The back of the house slopes down and has views from Golden Gate Bridge to downtown and the Bay Bridge. In an effort to preserve these views for the neighboring properties, the expansion was created below the existing house. The program required a 3 bedroom house with large living areas and contemporary style.

The design process was not the “traditional project delivery process” where the owner hires an architect to prepare drawings, then the owner hires a general contractor to bid and build the project. The traditional process creates communication problems and has higher chance of cost increase during construction. In the “traditional project delivery process”, the architect and contractor boundaries are more restricted.

Clarendon was designed under an “integrated project delivery process” where the owner requires a level of sophistication and a willingness to get involved. Contractor and suppliers were appointed from the beginning. The architect issued drawings in a collaborative relationship with the owner, contractor and suppliers. Decisions are made when they need to be made to eliminate redundant work. Contractor and suppliers are able to share their knowledge and expertise when it is most valuable in the design process.

stair at 1st Floor