Ministerial approval for SB-9 Projects in San Francisco

Posted on
January 27, 2022

SB-9 contains development standards and requirements that allow for a ministerial approval process and application of certain Planning Code regulations. A City agency may only deny an application for a housing development under SB-9 if, based on a preponderance of the evidence, the agency finds that the housing development project would have a specific, adverse impact upon health and safety or the physical environment and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate oravoid the specific adverse impact.


Since SB-9 projects are processed ministerially, conditional use authorization for demolition under Planning Code Section 317 will not be required. The permit for the new units must be approved at the same time as the demolition permit for any existing structures on the property.

Lot Split and duplex under SB-9
Lot Split and duplex under SB-9

Noticing Requirements.

Since SB-9 projects are processed ministerially, Neighborhood Notification under Planning Code Section 311 will not be required. The Department will not accept any requests for Discretionary Review for SB-9 projects.

CEQA Review.

Since SB-9 projects are processed ministerially, they are not subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Objective Standards.

SB-9 projects must comply with all objective requirements including zoning, subdivision, and design review standards that do not conflict with SB-9. The City cannot impose objective standards that would physically prevent the construction of up to two units or that would physically prevent either of the two units from being at least 800 square feet in floor area. In most cases, the allowable building envelope in a new structure should be able to accommodate two units of 800 square feet and meet objective Planning Code requirements including rear yard, open space, front setbacks, side setbacks, and exposure. SB-9 allows the City to require a setback of up to four feet from the side and rear lot lines. The San Francisco’s Residential Design Guidelines that are not objective and will not be applied in the review of SB-9 projects.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

ADUs allowed by State Law may be included in SB-9 projects, depending on the project scope and design and the proposed ADU type. More information on how to build an ADU in San Francisco here.

Non-Conforming Conditions.

SB-9 prohibits the correction of nonconforming zoning conditions as a condition for ministerial approval of a lot split.

SB-9 is very exciting for home owners and home buyers but not all the single family lots are eligible. So, first you need to check if the property is eligible for SB-9.
Posted on
California SB-9

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