Maher Ordinance and its impact

Posted on
September 30, 2017

What means Maher Ordinance?

Maher Ordinance is an environmental restriction applied to properties with potential subsurface chemical contamination that require a grading or building permit may be regulated under the San Francisco Maher Ordinance. These properties are part of the original area of historical contamination associated with the 1906 earthquake and fire.

The  Maher Ordinance covers areas with current or historical industrial use or  zoning, areas within 100 feet of current or historical underground tanks,  filled former Bay, marsh or creek areas and areas within 150 feet of a current or former elevated highway. If your site lies within one of these areas, you will likely be required by the SF Building Department to submit a site history (among other documents) prior to obtaining grading or excavation permits,  you may be required to perform a site investigation that conforms to SF Public Health Department requirements.

The Maher Zone was expanded in March 2015 to include:

  • The original zone along the San Francisco Bay Shoreline
  • Areas currently or historically zoned for industrial purposes
  • Areas currently or historically utilized for industrial purposes
  • Areas of Bay Fill
  • Areas within 150 feet of U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 280 and 880
  • Areas within 100 feet of an Underground Storage Tank (UST)

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What does Maher Ordinance require?

The San Francisco Maher Ordinance requires soil analysis for a list of inorganic and organic chemicals at construction sites where:  

1) at least 50 cubic yards of soil are disturbed;

2) there is construction on the Bay side of the historic high-tide line; or

3) there is reason to believe that hazardous waste may be present.

In this case, a geotechnical report done by a geo-tech engineer may be required.

How much is the cost of a geotechnical report?

The average cost for such test is approx. $1,200. If the soil sample and analysis report indicates there is hazardous waste present, you're required to create a site mitigation report and complete all site mitigation measures to ensure all significant environmental and health risk caused by the hazardous waste are mitigated. Here is an example of a large project site mitigation plan. These properties need to enroll in the Department of Public Health (DPH)’s Maher program is required prior to Planning approval. Be sure to enroll in DPH’s program save time to your permit review process. SF Planning will not be able to progress your permit for review without adequate proof of compliance. May cause project delay and additional costs.

GOOD NEWS! Single family or 2 or 3 unit residential building modification/remodel projects may be granted a waiver from further Maher Requirements. However, you still need to apply for such a waiver and pay the fee which is approx. $800.

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Posted on
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