A chance examination of an archived Annual Report from the Department of Public Works (DPW) of the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) sparked the research and analysis summarized within this report.
As viewed from the narrowly focused perspective of this building codes professional, closer review of this cache of historical records dating from 1944 to 1992 revealed dramatic storylines within DPW’s Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI), including tense turf wars with the Fire Department and the Board of Permit Appeals; the origins and development of the City’s current building codes and the ultimately doomed decades-long battle against State control of these codes and standards; the career (and death in 1985) of renowned Superintendent Robert C. Levy; continued efforts to modernize record-keeping and management processes; and the Bureau’s stout response to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
This monograph, which is divided into three Parts, attempts to capture the essence of these stories and events:
(This report is informal and qualitative in nature and is not authorized or intended for project-specific use by attorneys, building professionals or other participants in the construction, architectural, engineering, codes or litigation fields.)
Part I: Building Laws and Building Codes (1906-1990)
San Francisco’s Building Laws and Building Codes and related State code activities referenced directly or indirectly within these DPW Annual Reports include:
An amended edition of these 1948 Building Codes was published in 1952.
“The coming years will see still stronger attempts at a takeover made, which will require the concerted efforts of local government and the building industry to stop the empire building of the State and Federal Governments at the expense of the local public.”
Note: all State agencies now required to reference the same model code.
(“…for the first time an effort was being made to introduce provisions which would insure reasonable public safety from damage to buildings caused by earthquakes.”)
(“Consideration is being given to the many suggestions for revision of the Building Code. Some highly controversial matters, such as the lateral force provisions for new buildings, must be decided and it is intended to take them up later in the year.”)
(“A revised building code was forwarded to the City Attorney on June 27, 1955. This code is now in the hands of the Board of Supervisors, and should shortly be enacted. This code revises the 1947 code and …reflects a more comprehensive approach to building construction – in some cases less restrictive requirements have been made, in others, more.”)
(“Urban Renewal Program: This program commenced with the title of Slum Clearance Program and was later changed to the Urban Renewal Program. This program has been in effect for slightly over four years… The recommendations of a committee of the Mayor call for an accelerated program, as well as a more effective one. In order to accomplish this directive a new Housing Code has been enacted by the Board of Supervisors.”)
(“Report of Residential Record: In December, 1959, an ordinance was introduced in the Board of Supervisors requiring that before a residential building could be sold, a report must be obtained by the owner and delivered to the buyer. …This ordinance was passed March 21, 1960 with the effective date of July 1, 1960. It was not possible to secure and train the necessary personnel… The effective date was postponed by action of the Board of Supervisors until December 1, 1960.”)
(“During the spring of 1960 the Bureau undertook the first revision of the 1958 San Francisco Housing Code. …In January 1961 the proposed amendments to the Housing Code were sent to the Board of Supervisors. …The recommended amendments to the San Francisco Housing Code were passed by the Board of Supervisors on September 27, 1961.”)
(“The first overall revision of the 1956 San Francisco Building Code was sent to the Board of Supervisors in late November 1961. …The amendments to the San Francisco Building Code, which were under study since 1961, were passed by the Board of Supervisors in July 1962.”)
(“The Bureau was involved to a considerable extent in review and commenting upon proposed State regulation with regard to housing (Title 8) and the State Fire Marshal (Title 19). The efforts of the Bureau were not successful, however; and it is anticipated that serious problems will arise with regard to State rules and the City codes.”)
(“Work was started on a complete re-write of the San Francisco Plumbing Code by the Assistant Superintendent. …The proposed new code will generally follow the format of the Western Plumbing Officials model code with modifications necessary for a highly concentrated populace.”)
(“A second series of amendments to the San Francisco Building Code was passed in August 1964. The original code was completely rewritten in 1955 and substantially amended in 1962.”)
(“The format of the code has been developed, based upon the National Electrical Code …only amending those sections which it is felt require change due to the particular problems of a high-density city. Also, the pertinent portions of the State Code will be included so the code will be able, in general, to be the single reference for use in San Francisco.”
(“The Fire Department has, over the past several years, been preparing a complete revision to its Fire Code. Since 1960, this Bureau has been reviewing the contents of the proposed new code in order to eliminate and avoid areas of conflict, overlap and duplication. Unfortunately, an impasse was reached in 1962 in these negotiations for modifications of the code. The matter was referred by the Police Committee of the Board of Supervisors to the Chamber of Commerce for them to act as a mediator of both the intra-city agencies as well as those of industry and the professional organizations. This was done and the Chamber of Commerce has done an excellent job having reconciled the vast majority of the differences.”)
(“The Board of Permit Appeals continued in the same manner as in previous years in overruling over 90% of the matters presented to it relating to Building Code provisions.
“…The actions of this Board continue to erode the Bureau enforcement efforts, and there appears to be little that the Bureau can do to change the trend.”)
(“The coming years will see still stronger attempts at a takeover made, which will require the concerted efforts of local government and the building industry to stop the empire building of the State and Federal Governments at the expense of the local public.”)
(“In November 1966 Charter Amendment C …was passed, which …eliminated …the duplication of inspection and plan checking for commercial office buildings and residential occupancies between this Bureau and the Fire Department.
“Upon passage of this charter amendment there were transferred to the Bureau of Building Inspection four fire inspectors to assist as advisors from the Fire Department on fire matters as well as to assist in code preparation. This transfer …was effected in February 1967…”)
(“After two and a half years of preparation, review, and meetings with all segments of industry and the professions, the completely rewritten and re-edited Building Code became effective on March 20, 1969. The new code utilizes a format completely compatible with the Uniform Building Code.”)
(“As a companion to the new Building Code, a new Housing Code was adopted into law.
“…Transferred from the Housing Code into the new Building Code were all construction requirements. The Housing Code will be the ‘existing’ residential buildings code basically containing the retroactive requirements for all residential buildings. No changes were made in these retroactive provisions.”)
(“The new Building Code contains provisions for the removal or reinforcement of parapets and other building appendages subject to failure from earthquake. The necessary funding to staff the parapet section was deleted by the Board of Supervisors from the 1969-70 budget.
“…Therefore, the Bureau is on record that the parapet ordinance is not and cannot be enforced at this time due to budget cuts.”)
(“The new San Francisco Electrical Code, prepared by a joint industry, construction and professional committee, was submitted to the Board of Supervisors and adopted in the Fall of 1970.
“…It represented the first major update of the Electrical Code in San Francisco history and the first such single document to be used by the industry.”)
(“The relationship between the Bureau and the Board of Permit Appeals continues to be that the Board acts to overrule the requirements of the several City codes with little or no equivalent safety being provided in many structures.”
“It is the stated position of the Bureau of Building Inspection that it cannot be an administrator of an illegal act. We will continue to proceed in this same manner whenever we believe the Board has violated the law by waiving specific code requirements.”)
(“Unfortunately, there are increasingly being introduced preemptive legislation to remove, from the cities and counties, local control of local programs.”
“With the recognition of the increasing pressures in the State Legislature to remove home rule, greater importance has been cast on the review of legislation within the Bureau and participation in the California Chapter of International Conference of Building Officials…”)
(“The program continued at the same level as in previous years since 1967 when this function for multi-family housing was transferred to the Bureau of Building Inspection.
“…The continued effort on the part of the staff to bring pressure upon owners to bring buildings up to minimum Housing Code levels is apparently succeeding.”)
(“In the latter part of 1970, the Plumbing Code, which had previously been drafted and sent to industry in 1966 and then tabled, was revised and updated to comparability with the 1970 Uniform Plumbing Code. …went into effect in April 1972.”)
(“Because of the short-staff situation and the inability of Civil Service to fill our personnel needs, the enforcement of the Parapet Ordinance has been held in abeyance.
“It is anticipated, however, that the new fiscal year will see …staffing for the Parapet Section…”)
(“In May 1973 the triennial review of the building code was completed with approximately 225 code changes enacted into law. These changes range from editorial corrections to completely overhauled articles of the code. In addition new code provisions were added relating to life safety systems in high rise buildings…”
(“Due to the financial crisis of the Cities, the 1973 Building Code amendments were never printed by the City.”)
(“As a result of continued pressure by the Federal government involving jeopardizing millions of dollars of federal assistance, the Director of Public Works in September approved the use of plastic ABS and PVC piping for drain, waste and vent use in accordance with the installation provision of the Uniform Plumbing Code.
“It is the position of the Bureau to enforce the ruling of the Director while still retaining a negative position…”)
(“Increasingly there has been a greater degree of activity of Federal agencies entering the code field. This is evidenced by the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Consumer Product Safety Act, as well as the Fire Prevention Act now being considered in Congress at this time.
“…All of these areas will cause increased incursions into the building code field and will cause problems in this City and County resulting from overlaps and duplications of authority.”)
(“Another assist has been …State Assembly Bill 475 enacted in 1974 and introduced by Assemblyman Willy Brown. This law permits the enforcement official …to notify the Franchise Tax Board of any rental residential property wherein the owner has failed to abate the code violations…
“If not appealed or if the appeal is not sustained, the Franchise Tax Board then prohibits any tax exemptions from state taxes that the owner normally takes for his property. This has had a very powerful effect upon owners since in many cases the only profit they can see is that provided by the tax deductions on their income property.”)
(“The code activities of the State Fire Marshal will cause serious problems to the City of San Francisco particularly in the area of existing high-rise buildings wherein they have the authority through state law to adopt regulations retroactively applicable to them. Working with the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, it is hoped that these regulations can be made realistic in their application to existing buildings.”)
(“The Superintendent had recommended in 1969 that to speed up the process …that …a private printer do the job with his own capital and then to permit him to sell the codes to recapture his costs. This is the procedure used by the City of Los Angeles…”
“In early June the Building Code was completed with over twenty amendments including the major 1973 changes incorporated therein. It was placed on public sale on June 24, 1975. It represented a recodification, as well as a reprinted document.”)
(“Another new era of enforcement activity placed upon the Bureau is the recently enacted security requirements ordinance. These requirements will involve all multifamily residential buildings, both new and existing.”)
(“In the reorganization, the duties assigned to the three major Deputy and Assistant Superintendents, would reduce the span of control now presently centered upon the Superintendent and would properly group the functions under conservation, on-line day-to-day inspectional activities, and administration.”
“The proposed reorganization discussed …was fully approved by the Civil Service Commission and the Board of Supervisors with funding commencing July 1, 1975.”)
(“During the fiscal year, the Assistant Superintendent, Property Conservation was financed and filled, but the other three positions were frozen.
“This standoff was well covered in the news media.”)
(“A Structural Engineer was appointed and assigned in April to the newly activated Parapet Safety Section to implement a program of enforcement for the Parapet Ordinance – Article 2.5 of the San Francisco Building Code.”)
“…the surveys and issuance of citations were halted pending a reassessment of the Program by the Board of Examiners. …The absence of specific requirements, coupled with some unfortunate areas of ambiguity, permits differing interpretations as to what the ordinance requires.”
“It is expected that, with Program requirements now clearly defined by the Board of Examiners, and not likely to be changed to any significant extent, the Program will move forward at a more rapid pace.”)
(“During this fiscal year, additional opposition …together with the appointment of a new State Fire Marshal, led to further changes to the proposed regulations. These changes removed many of the overly restrictive requirements and high cost items that provided questionable benefits.”)
(“Since the inception of the program… 4,559 structures with 17,303 dwelling units have been brought into compliance with displacement of less than 2% of residents. One thousand one hundred and forty-four loans totaling $29.1 million have been disbursed for code compliance work with an additional $24.4 million coming from private financing.”)
(“These positions were approved in the 1974-75 budget but were frozen, and some were then deleted from subsequent budgets.”)
(“We will review the Uniform Building Code changes, as well as changes in State law and suggested changes by our staff in this update.
“…A similar review of the Electrical Code is being undertaken …to update the San Francisco Electrical Code using the National Electrical Code as a model.”)
(“The Department of Housing and Community Development has just adopted new housing regulations which affect access requirements for the handicapped…”
“The retroactive high-rise requirements promulgated by the State Fire Marshal …will involve joint inspections by our building inspectors with the Fire Department inspectors…”
“A new Energy Code has been adopted by the State Energy Commission for non-residential buildings, to be enforced by the local building inspection departments…”)
(“The Parapet Safety Program made slower than expected progress during its second year of operation. …At the start of the Program, various groups that are interested in the City’s environment and appearance …were instrumental in limiting the Program essentially to parapets, cornices, freestanding statuary, chimneys, and roof tanks.”)
(“…a review of the Electrical Code using the National Electrical Code as a model …is expected to be completed in late 1979.”)
(“A review of the Building Code is expected to commence early in 1979.”
“The update of the building code initiated in 1980 was given full impetus in 1981-82, and the new code will be submitted for adoption by early 1983. This code will adopt by reference the Uniform Building Code with amendments to reflect the needs of local conditions.”)
(“The Smoke and Heat Detector program is within 99% completion with 98% of the 19,500 buildings in compliance.”)
(“The first phase of the Permit Tracking System was implemented in November, 1981. Applications for building permits are tracked throughout the approval process from filing to issuance.”
“Programming was completed in FY 84/85, extending the scope of Permit Tracking to include Electrical and Plumbing permits from issuance to completion of work.”
“With an unprecedented boom in construction activity from 1981 through 1984, the permit process would have been overwhelmed by the demands of this boom without some relief via automation.”)
(“The Uniform Building Code and Uniform Mechanical Code were adopted along with some amendments necessary to reflect local conditions, as codes of the City.”
“An ordinance to adopt the National Electric Code was awaiting action at the Board of Supervisors at year’s end.”
“The adoption of the 1985 Uniform Building, Mechanical and Plumbing Codes and the 1984 National Electrical Code, and the updating of the San Francisco Housing Code, will be completed in FY 1986-87. The adoption of these codes will mark the beginning of a triennial cycle of national code adoptions.”
(“The events and achievements of the past year were overshadowed by the death of Superintendent Robert C. Levy on May 20, 1985. His talents, knowledge of codes, dedication, and national stature are irreplaceable.
“He has left an indelible imprint upon the face of this City, the Bureau of Building Inspection, and the Department of Public Works. His legacy includes the Broadway Tunnel, code innovations in fire safety and emergency exiting, and national leadership in the continuing evolution of building codes.”)
(“As part of the service improvements, the Bureau was restructured in December, 1985, with a greater emphasis placed on ‘over-the-counter’ permits.”
“The consolidation of the Abatement Division with the Building Inspection Division and reassignment of Senior Building Inspectors to more efficiently supervise staff made it possible to create smaller districts with more inspectors in the field.”
“Housing Inspection Division (HID), which assumed 50% of the work of the now-dissolved Abatement Division without an increase in staff …has also been performing complaint inspections in single and two family buildings for one year now.”)
(“…in response to the public’s concerns on various code enforcement issues regarding disabilities access, the Bureau established a Disability Access Program for coordination of information regarding all issues dealing with disabilities access.
“The Disability Access Coordinator has put into place a training program for the Bureau staff that brings expanded awareness to disability access issues. This expanded awareness is not only in the areas of plan checking and inspections, but also in the real-life difficulties experienced by the disabled community.”)
(“The devastating earthquake of October 17 provided the Bureau with its greatest challenge. Within minutes, BBI received reports of significant damage across the entire City. Phones were down, power was out, and towards the Bay, smoke could be seen billowing towards the sky. The needs of the public were overwhelming, and all too soon darkness began to fall.”
“The number of inspections and quantity of services provided by Bureau personnel was truly incredible. During the first 72 hours, over 1,600 inspections were performed.”
“The staff of the Code Enforcement Division were assigned to the special projects necessary to follow up on earthquake damaged buildings. Procedures were developed and implemented to inspect and enforce new City Ordinances regarding commercial energy conservation retrofit requirements in connection with permits and title changes of commercial properties. Special inspection procedures were revised and implemented for compliance with the 1990 San Francisco Building Code.”
(“During the 1991-1992 fiscal year, the Bureau began the challenge of carrying out business operation reforms. These reforms were in the areas of customer relations, communications, computerization and financial management and will continue to take place over the next two years. The Bureau has become more accountable, more accessible and increased its credibility and productivity through these reforms.
“The Bureau has also changed its role from that of an adversary to that of a consultant when responding to …the public.”
“Although the earthquake of October 17, 1989 remained a challenge for the Bureau of Building Inspection, it has begun to approach the greater challenge of carrying out business operation reforms. These reforms will make the Bureau more accountable, accessible, and increase its credibility and productivity. These reforms are in the areas of communications, computerization, financial management and customer relations.”
“During fiscal year 1991-92, the Bureau continued to expand its computer communication network by installing 40 personal computers and their attendant support devices. The Local Area Network now connects the computers in the Bureau’s three locations. The installation of Electronic Mail (E-Mail) provided a vehicle for communication among the three locations. The Bureau will continue to use computers as the basis for changing its business operations.”)
Part III: Additional Information from DPW Reports
“The floor area of standard one-family dwellings, which previously was limited to 800 square feet, was increased successively to 900 and 1,000 square feet; the construction of two-family dwellings known as flats, discontinued during the first war years, was again permitted. Many existing buildings, sometimes quite dilapidated, were rehabilitated under the Home Owners Loan Act and additional housing units were thus made available.”
“This was done through an emergency allocation of funds from the Mayor’s emergency budget. In spite of this additional help, the inspectors of this Bureau have been sorely tried by an excess of work.
“Under the veterans’ home building program many hones have been started but, due to shortages of material, stand incompleted. The resulting extended construction period, for almost every building, has proportionately increased the number of inspection visits to be paid by the district inspectors.”
“The difficulties of writing a building code are little understood except to those involved in its production. Commercial advantages are sought by many groups and the pressure on code workers is ceaseless and long drawn out.”
“In spite of this, a complete New Code will be submitted to the Supervisors for adoption in the near future. We believe it will prove to be a creditable document.”
“The preliminary draft was completed March 1, 1946, and copies were submitted to all the interested organizations for study and suggestions. The response from these organizations was highly constructive and was utilized in the preparation of a revised draft, which work absorbed the balance of the fiscal year.”
“Within the past several months there has been an increase to construction for commercial use; for instance, the expansion of telephone facilities, which has been reflected in additional telephone exchanges and the additions, horizontally and vertically, to already existing structures for telephone exchanges. Other public utilities, shipping, and industrial concerns in general have had to take care of increased demands by new construction and by additions to existing buildings.
“The shortage of essential materials for construction has eased up considerably and there is every indication of a continuing increase in building construction.”
The response from these organizations was highly constructive and was utilized in the preparation of a revised draft which was completed under date of August 10, 1946. This revised draft was sent to all who had received the original draft of the code, and after adjustment of controversial matters the code was passed to print by the Board of Supervisors at a seating on June 9, 1947. This code …will be voted upon for final passage in about three weeks’ time.”
“The production of a building code is at all times a controversial matter and at this time became particularly so, due to the fact that for the first time an effort was being made to introduce provisions which would insure reasonable public safety from damage to buildings caused by earthquakes.
“After almost twenty-six months of work and many hearings before the Judiciary Committee and the Board of Supervisors, the code was finally passed and signed by the Mayor on August 12, 1947. Geo. S. Hill, Structural Engineer, was responsible for the actual writing of the code.
“Credit for collaboration should also go to John Q. Little, Superintendent of the Bureau, Felix H. Spitzer, C. H. Potts, Lester Bush, W.E. Laming (in connection with the Article on Boiler Inspection) and Frank Kelly, Chief of the Bureau of Fire prevention and Public Safety.”
“This ordinance was passed by the Board of Supervisors, signed by the Mayor, and made effective as of September 11, 1947.”
“Less trouble was experienced in the change to the new code than had been anticipated.”
“These bureaus gave peak performance in the fiscal year of 1948/1949, issuing permits for and inspecting private building construction to a total value of $77,802,043 against $12,121,829 in 1943/1944. Total personnel increased only from 18 to 36 in the corresponding period.
“This was the first full year in which the new building code of 1947 was effectively put into operation. This was done entirely successfully, with little opposition or criticism from the public and apparently was well received by the outside business interests, considering the amount of opposition previous to its enactment.
“Under the provisions of this code it is mandatory upon the Director of Public Works to reopen it for discussion biannually. The first of such reviews should therefore occur in the latter part of 1949 and such weaknesses as have developed can be readily corrected at that time.”
“Considerable work and study has been done relative to revising certain portions of the building code; for example:
“The article on Boilers, Water Heaters and Tanks: Certain changes are desired and others will have to be incorporated to bring the article into conformity with regulations of the State of California.
“The article on Mechanical Refrigeration: Instead of making the Safety Code for Mechanical Refrigeration of the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers our code by reference, it is desired to make up our own code in order to have a more comprehensive code.
“The article on Elevators: Addition of material to cover elevators of all types rather than just residential is desired.
“The section of Fire Escapes is being studied and revised in order to provide a more adequate solution to this most important subject on safety.”
“There are four ‘called inspections’ on buildings:
“At the present time two members of the Bureau are working with and under the supervision of the Superintendent in reviewing the present building code, which became effective in 1947, for the purpose of clarifying many portions of the code as well as eliminating conflicting requirements in the code itself and conflicts between other local and state building requirements.
“It is proposed to make such amendments to the code as to bring it into conformity with the latest construction and code practices and eventually to have as nearly as possible a performance code.”
“The Building Code is being completely revised and will probably be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for adoption during the fiscal year 1953-1954.”
“…The first 29 Articles in first draft form have been mimeographed and distributed to the interested building industry organizations, individuals, and Code Committees for review and comment, and much of such comment is now being studied for acceptance or rejection.
“The Building Industry Conference Board has appointed a Building Code Committee which acts as a clearing house for all organization committees, and which will work directly with the Bureau in completing the final draft of the Code. Articles 30 to 46 are being mimeographed and will be delivered to the various committees in the near future.
“The Code in its final form will be patterned after the Uniform Building Code, and will have included up-to-date provisions of the National Fire Code.
“Somewhat new as far as building codes are concerned, but desirable, will be an article on the use of plastics and regulations regarding the insulation of buildings.
“Included also are requirements for inside wall and ceiling finishes. Other new provisions are those regarding mechanical ventilation, heating, and refrigeration.”
“In conjunction with the Department of Public Health and Fire Prevention Bureau, much work has been accomplished in the ‘South of Market Area’. Some buildings have been demolished, many others have been rehabilitated and it has been necessary to refer only a minimum to the City Attorney for abatement.”
“This program was placed in effect in this bureau in February 1954 under the authority granted in the San Francisco Building Code.
“All types of buildings are involved with the exception of occupied hotels and apartment houses which, however, may be involved where only structural or safety conditions are concerned.
“This program has been very effective in either restoring unsafe buildings to meet requirements of the codes, or in causing the demolition of them. This program supplements the Urban Renewal Program and accomplishes a great deal for our City.”
“A revised building code was forwarded to the City Attorney on June 27, 1955. This code is now in the hands of the Board of Supervisors, and should shortly be enacted. This code revises the 1947 code and, based upon the experiences gained since 1947, reflects a more comprehensive approach to building construction – in some cases less restrictive requirements have been made, in others, more.
“This new code provides for possible future construction materials not now in use, but which may be approved for use without a complete revision of the code.”
“The new building code, enacted by the Board of Supervisors, became effective May 7, 1956. It has not yet been published in book form. There have been many changes in the new code with reference to the one it replaced. The changes are in keeping with the times.”
“This program has been very effective in either restoring unsafe buildings to meet requirements of the codes, or in causing the demolition of them. While this program does not involve the problem that Urban Renewal does, nevertheless it accomplishes a great deal for our city in correcting hazardous conditions in structures and abandoned buildings. In the more than 1100 cases investigated, 400 buildings were demolished, and 300 restored. There are 100 cases in the City Attorney’s Office for abatement, and there is a backlog of about 300 others.
“The Urban Renewal Program includes within its activities the work of the Urban Renewal Division and the Spot Condemnation units of the Bureau. The Urban Renewal Division works through designated areawide studies and planned area inspections, while the Spot Condemnation unit works City-wide via complaints and ‘spot’ investigations.”
“During the early part of the year, the field work for the feasibility study was completed and procedural studies for actual code enforcement work in a Conservation Area were made. Conferences were held with the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety, and the Department of Public Health, to define responsibility and determine standards of inspection to apply to existing buildings. It was decided that the Urban Renewal Inspectors, together with Fire Inspectors, would handle all inspection work, and the actual permit inspections would be done by the building inspectors assigned to the Urban Renewal Division.
“The first Conservation Area was in Pacific Heights and work of the Division started in December, 1959. During the fiscal year, two areas were designated and inspection work under study were under way in four other areas to determine their suitability for this type program.”
“The Housing Appeals Board heard 20 appeals for the condemnation orders of the Director of Public Works and the Director of Public Health.
“This board, created last year, comprises five persons appointed by the Chief Administrative Officer, and in addition, the Director of the Department of City Planning and the Associate Urban Renewal Coordinator serve as ex-officio members without vote, and the Urban Renewal Analyst acts as Secretary of the Board.”
“In December, 1959, an ordinance was introduced in the Board of Supervisors requiring that before a residential building could be sold, a report must be obtained by the owner and delivered to the buyer.
“This report would indicate the zoning, original use, present legal occupancy and other pertinent information to be obtained from the legal records of the City and not from inspection. From this report, the prospective buyer could determine the legality of the building.”
“This ordinance was passed March 21, 1960 with the effective date of July 1, 1960. It was not possible to secure and train the necessary personnel, nor establish the necessary administrative procedures within that short period. The effective date was postponed by action of the Board of Supervisors until December 1, 1960.”
“…and the initiation of the first annual revision to the San Francisco Building Code since its adoption in 1956.
In addition several programs were initiated to improve the services performed by the Bureau. These programs will be more fully explained in the following text:
“1. San Francisco Housing Code:
“The main points involved in the new Housing Code amendments concerned retroactive provisions which would provide fire and safety features in existing apartment houses and hotels and primarily concerned themselves with smoke barriers and stairway enclosures, sealing of transoms and requirements relative to electrical outlets in each room.
“During the spring of 1960 the Bureau undertook the first revision of the 1958 San Francisco Housing Code. By September 1960 these proposed revisions had been sent to all groups concerned and in October 1960, the Bureau of Building Inspection held a public meeting of these groups so that they might express their views on the proposed amendments.
“The Chamber of Commerce, through its Building Code Committee coordinated the diverse industrial and management groups in this matter. In January 1961 the proposed amendments to the Housing Code were sent to the Board of Supervisors.
“There ensued a considerable number of hearings before the Public Health and Welfare Committee of the Board and the full Board. The main contention of the opposition revolved about the cost of the new retroactive legislation. The Bureau’s position was, that although not in favor of retroactive legislation in general, these provisions were both necessary and economically justifiable.
“Its reports to the Board of Supervisors confirmed both the need and the costs. At the close of the fiscal year the matter was in committee for the third time awaiting transmittal to the Board of Supervisors.”
“2. Residential Requirements (3-R) Reports:
“In the spring of 1960 the Board of Supervisors enacted into law the mandatory requirements that the seller of residential property must furnish the buyer with a report furnished by the City, stating the legal status of the property.
“The purpose of this ordinance is to furnish buyers of residential property the status of a building as recorded in the city records so that they may evaluate their economic risk.”
“As an alternative the buyer might waive this report by signing a form and sending it to the Bureau of Building Inspection.
“In order to set up the complex machinery needed for this new law, the effective date was postponed from July I, 1960 to December 1, 1960, and on that latter date the new division started operations.”
“3. Overlapping Inspection:
“In order to eliminate overlapping inspections between this Bureau, Fire Prevention and Public Health, the Bureau of Building Inspection, at various meetings, urged that an outside study be made; first to determine the proper inspection jurisdictions for the various groups, building, health, and fire, and second, to suggest the changes in the laws that are necessary to set up the areas of jurisdictions.
“It was believed by the Bureau that because the various interests within the city were too close to the subject to be completely objective that the study would best be made by an outside management group.”
“6. The San Francisco Building Code:
“The 1956 San Francisco Building Code included, within its enactment ordinance, the requirement for annual review. Due to lack of personnel in the intervening years and to the subsequent change in administrative personnel the Bureau was unable to prepare an annual revision until this fiscal year. However, throughout the last two years a file of recommendations, ambiguities, conflicts within the code, etc., was prepared so that these would form the basis of the code revision.”
“It is anticipated that there will be over 400 changes, both major and minor in character, to the Building Code. Major changes involve reduction of corridor wall fire-resistive construction requirements from 2-hours to 1-hour; raising the requirement for doors in such corridors to 3/4-hour fire ratings; complete revision of Article 21 dealing with exits; complete review of designation for fire doors and fire windows to utilizing the hour rating system rather than alphabetical system; complete revisions to lateral force requirements of the code; provision for pre‑stress concrete design; plastic design in steel; and many other both major and minor text changes throughout the code.
“In order to lessen the amount of paper work and printing that would be necessary by this extensive change in the code a preliminary code change was submitted to the City Attorney for transmittal to the Board of Supervisors which would change the present sub-section designations throughout the Building Code into full section. This technical change in designation, it is believed, will save over 50% of typing necessary in the code change.
“The annual review of the Building Code on a continuing basis has been established with a cut-off date for submissions of new code changes set in November of each year. Therefore, the next annual code change study will commence November 1961, or approximately the date of submission of the 1961 code change to the Board of Supervisors.”
“The ordinance allows apartment house and hotel owners until January 1966 to comply with the retroactive requirements stated therein except in the case of a fire hazard, as determined by the Chief of the Fire Department, in which case 6 months compliance can be obtained.
“Although this measure was bitterly fought by several groups, many groups felt that if safety can be afforded at a reasonable cost, that it would be constructive legislation, and the action by the Board of Supervisors, in passing the legislation concurred in this philosophy.”
“Hearings were held as described in the 1961 Annual Report and further hearings between the Fire Department and the Director of Public Works eliminated many of their objections. At the close of the fiscal year the Public Buildings and Lands Committee of the Board of Supervisors, after hearing this matter, had recommended to the Board passage of the amendments by unanimous vote, and it is anticipated that the full Board will pass the amendments in early July.”
“The members of the Board constitute a cross-section of the highest caliber of professional services available in the City. Unfortunately there is no similar board established by the Electrical or Plumbing Codes and there is, therefore, no appeal presently set forth for either of their fields from decisions of the Superintendent with regard to new materials or methods of construction.
“It is the intention of the Bureau to propose amendments to both Electrical and Plumbing Codes so as to empower the Board of Examiners to act as an appeal body in technical matters regarding these codes.
“The Board, under this proposal, would be augmented with regard to Plumbing or Electrical matters by replacing the general contractor, who is presently on the 5‑man Board, by an electrical or plumbing contractor as the case may be, dependent upon the matter before the Board being an Electrical or Plumbing Code problem.
“The right to appeal is a very vital matter and is one that should be afforded to any person from the decisions of a single person.”
“The International Conference of Building Officials, which published the Uniform Building Code, and of which the Bureau is a member, appointed the Superintendent to two committees of that organization to help re-write the masonry and roofing portions of the Uniform Building Code.
“The Uniform Building Code is the guide for building regulations promulgated by the various State agencies and is used by all cities of the Bay Area with some minor modifications.
“The Bureau of Building Inspection, in preparing code changes to our code, recognizes those changes to the Uniform Building Code which are adopted from year to year and, upon study of these changes proposes similar legislation when appropriate, for the amending of the San Francisco Building Code.
“In this way the San Francisco Code is brought into agreement with the Uniform Building Code in those requirements where our special needs do not require different code requirements.”
“Further amendments are under study …by industry and it is expected to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors in the fall of 1963.
“One amendment proposed will change the requirement from annual code review to a mandatory review every three years. This will ease the workload on both the Bureau and industry. Major items requiring addition or correction to the code will be submitted as necessary, however.”
“The Superintendent was appointed to advisory committees with regard to both these State codes. These committees were advisory to the State Building Standards Commission, which is the State agency that is charged with the review of all State regulations to avoid duplicating conflicts and overlapping of State laws.
“The efforts of the Bureau were not successful, however; and it is anticipated that serious problems will arise with regard to State rules and the City codes.”
“In order to achieve a more efficient, as well as a more economical service, by the City, the initial phase of the one million dollar Community Renewal Program being prepared by the Arthur D. Little consulting firm was to investigate the present City functions of the several agencies and to recommend changes that would eliminate the overlap wherever practicable, and to assign to the various agencies the enforcement most properly done by them.
“The initial phases of this report were released in January, 1964, in which reorganization of this Bureau was recommended so as to include in its function the total inspection of construction in new and existing buildings and to effect the removal of certain of the enforcement requirements presently handled by the Fire Department and the Department of Public Health.”
“These two departments prepare lists of deficiencies or ‘check lists’ citing the areas they believe to be in violation of the code. The Building Inspector, as well as the Plumbing and Electrical Inspectors of this Bureau, then investigate each such check list and prepare a list of requirements in order to bring the building into code compliance. This list is prepared after the owner has filed for a permit to bring the structure into code compliance so that either the Department of Public Health or the Fire Department would then issue the necessary Permit to Operate to the owner.
“There are thousands of buildings involved in this program and the resultant inspection workload is very heavy. The list of deficiencies prepared by this Bureau is the consolidated list of all City agencies, and the owner is thereby subject to one enforcement agency, and thus is not ‘harassed’ by multiple enforcing groups.”
“Other changes included administrative provisions covering the extent of alteration work that must be done in accordance with the present code. In all, there were approximately 100 code changes recommended. It is expected that the proposed legislation will be adopted at an early date.”
“The matter was referred by the Police Committee of the Board of Supervisors to the Chamber of Commerce for them to act as a mediator of both the intra-city agencies as well as those of industry and the professional organizations. This was done and the Chamber of Commerce has done an excellent job having reconciled the vast majority of the differences.
“There still remains the matter of retroactivity and provisions which would conflict with the enforcement procedures of this Bureau. However, it is anticipated that upon the commencement of new committee hearings by the Board of Supervisors, these last two areas of difference may be resolved.”
“A. In July, 1963, the ‘Uniform Interpretation Committee for the San Francisco Electrical Code’ was formed by the electrical industry and related groups. It consists of members of the electrical contractors, associates, the trust fund, the union, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and electrical engineering groups and meets once each month. Both the Superintendent and the Chief Electrical Inspector participate in all meetings, although not officially members of the group.
“The purpose of the group is to consider problems regarding the interpretation of the electrical code, discuss it, and recommend an interpretation of the code regarding the problem involved. The Bureau participates in the discussion, and, of course, need not follow the recommendation of the committee. Upon reaching a decision, the Bureau then publishes a bulletin to its inspectors and the industry regarding the matter.
“This committee …has been a substantial contribution to our electrical code enforcement, and will undoubtedly assist in the future our rewriting of the Electrical Code.”
“Recommendations therefore, were sent to the Board of Supervisors to amend the Housing Code so as to be consistent with the Building Code exemption. Hearings were held at which the Fire Department opposed this deletion and no action was taken in this matter by the end of the fiscal year. The Codes, therefore, remain in conflict. It is hoped this matter will be reconciled at an early date.”
“The intensity of the fire and its rapid spread was sufficiently unusual to warrant intensive investigation and possible code change recommendations.
“The Fire Department proposed that single family dwellings be provided with two exits on every floor; that interior finish regulations apply to single and two-family dwellings; and that the stairways in the buildings be enclosed. All of these requirements were to be retroactive.
“Recommendations of this Bureau were that thin combustible materials (less than 1/2″ thickness) should be backed by gypsum wallboard or other similar incombustible material. In addition, one window in each bedroom should be sufficiently large and located not more than 3 feet off the floor so that exiting through the window would be facilitated.
“Hearings were held and the retroactive aspects of the Fire Department recommendations were dropped as being impractical and excessive. Further hearings modified the two exit requests, and the matter was sent to the various industry and professional groups for their comments before returning the matter to the Board of Supervisors. It is expected that hearings will be held in August.”
“To this end, the State Attorney General issued an Opinion which indicated that a local legislative body may declare that the codes in their areas, together with the local conditions, are equal to or more restrictive than the corresponding State codes and that, therefore, the local codes would pertain.
“In August, such a resolution will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for their action. The resolution was transmitted to industry and professional groups for their comments and the initial response indicates strong support…”
“This Bureau is concerned with the increasing scope of the State activities in the areas of Housing and Building, and through its activities in the California Chapter of the International Conference of Building Officials, will continue to define local government and retain for local government the maximum degree of autonomy. The Superintendent is currently the First-Vice-President of the California Chapter of the International Conference of Building Officials.”
“In a large number of the cases in which the Board has overruled the Department of Public Works, fire safety was the paramount issue.
“The Department of Public Works has grave concern over the possible hazardous conditions that may have resulted by the elimination of the needed safety requirements from many of the permit applications.”
“A second series of amendments to the San Francisco Building Code was passed in August 1964. The original code was completely rewritten in 1955 and substantially amended in 1962.
“Provisions relating to interior finishes and plastics were to be reviewed for inclusion into the code in 1964. These were withdrawn by this Bureau due to studies still underway at the time the Board of Supervisors was to consider the second series of code amendments.
“The interior finish and plastics amendments were again transmitted to the Board on May 28, 1965, and these included the regulation of smoke generation by specific numerical values based upon the ASTM Standard E-84 Tunnel Test.
“This is the first inclusion of specific smoke regulations in the building code of any major city in the United States. It is expected that hearings will be held by the Board of Supervisors in early July, 1965, and the proposals have the endorsement of professional groups as well as the Society of the Plastics Industry.
“Hearings with regard the inclusion of fire retardant wood were held in 1964, in April 1965, and again in June 1965 by the Board of Supervisors Committee, and the matter is still unresolved.
“The position of the Bureau of Building Inspection has been against the inclusion of fire retardant wood for one-hour partitions in Types 1 and 2 buildings due to the increased fuel loading in the major buildings.
“A similar change has been before the Los Angeles City Council for several years and no decision has yet been rendered there due to the bitter controversy regarding its validity.
“As part of the changes made in August, 1964, were changes intended to emphasize as well as expand the area of special inspections for types of construction requiring close supervision and for which the inspection by the Bureau could not be adequate.
“Among these classes of inspection are welding, where design stresses exceed 50% of the allowable, pile driving, ‘plastic’ type fireproofing including plastering and spray-on fireproofing, prestress concrete, high strength concrete, reinforced masonry, etc.
“Some of the problems attendant to these special inspection requirements are the method of acceptance of testing agencies which have the facilities and the experienced personnel to carry out the inspection.
“Further problems relate to the type and contents of the reports from the inspection agency, or from the architect or engineer who may take upon himself the inspection, and the qualification of an inspector for the agency making the inspection.
“The Bureau is presently investigating the basic requirements for these areas and will shortly release its requirements so that uniformity of inspection for these critical areas can be provided and the method for accepting laboratories set forth so as to provide specific requirements for any new testing agency who wishes to be accepted by the Bureau.”
“For the past several years a request has been included in the Bureau budget for the employment of an electrical engineer in order to prepare a new electrical code for the City. The Electrical Code has required change, and the use of the present code has presented a problem with regard to enforcement since it has required many interpretations in order to keep it correct. The electrical industry offered to employ a consultant electrical engineer for the preparation of the code at its own expense, and since the item was deleted by the Board of Supervisors from the 1964-65 budget this offer was accepted by the City. Accordingly, an ‘Advisory Committee for the Revision of The San Francisco Electrical Code’ was formed and meetings held in order to develop this new code. The Committee consists of the consultant, members of the contractors’ organizations, electrical union representatives and of the electrical utility company, and representatives from the Bureau of Building Inspection participate in these meetings.
“The format of the code has been developed, based upon the National Electrical Code, using the sections, numbers, and provisions thereof, and only amending those sections which it is felt require change due to the particular problems of a high-density city. Also, the pertinent portions of the State Code will be included so the code will be able, in general, to be the single reference for use in San Francisco.
“Under the Building Code, as well as other codes administered by the Bureau of Building Inspection, the approval of materials is a key factor in keeping the code up-to-date. Under the provisions of the code, performance is generally the basis of approval of new methods or materials of construction.
“The industry is constantly improving its products and developing new ones, and in addition the desire of industry to keep up with its competition also adds more products to the building field.
“All of this gives rise to a large number of approval requests which are acted upon each year. This has required the preparation of approved material listings, due to the fact that between 150 and 200 approvals are reviewed or approved each year, primarily for the use of the building inspectors and the plan checkers so that they would be aware of the new materials in the event plans are submitted indicating same.
“Listings are also forwarded to the American Institute of Architects, the Structural Engineers Association, and the Daily Pacific Builder, which publication has published all approved materials lists for the information of its readers as a service to the construction industry.
“However, the extremely large mass of approved materials has become unwieldy for the inspector to handle or refer to since there is no ready means of reference to a special class of work or manufacturer.
“Rather than continuously reprint and redistribute this material, in order to place it in proper categories another method of listing was found to be a necessity. In addition it has been found desirable to make available to architects and engineers, as well as the manufacturers of the materials, those approvals which have been granted by the Bureau in a concise, readily usable form.
“In the summer of 1964, therefore, a pilot set of approved materials cards was prepared incorporating all the approvals that had previously been granted by the Bureau and so coded to provide for access either by manufacturer or class of approved material. This pilot set is kept up-to-date by adding to it all approvals that have been granted within the last year.
“The Bureau investigated the possibility of having the material published and sold at a reasonable fee by the Daily Pacific Builder; however it was found that, after months of study of the matter, the Builder could not at the present time handle such work. The matter is presently being studied by the American Institute of Architects to determine whether they might be in a position to take upon themselves this service. It is our intent, however, that in the event this method of publication is not found feasible, to pursue the matter by having the City prepare and sell this listing to the construction industry. Probably supplements will have to be prepared and distributed on a bi-monthly basis. It is intended, if done by the City, that it be a self-supporting function.”
“The Bureau has a Class A membership in the International Conference of Building Officials and attends meetings in the Central District thereof and the Peninsula Chapter. The Superintendent, as has been indicated, is also the President of the California Chapter which deals with legislative affairs affecting the building industry. The ICBO prepares the Uniform Building Code and this Bureau is active in the review of changes proposed for that code so that we are up-to-date with what is proposed, and where these changes are found favorable for inclusion in the San Francisco Building Code, these form part of the revisions of the San Francisco code.
“The Uniform Building Code is used as a basis for State regulations in certain fields, and the City codes must be equal to or more restrictive than the State regulations.
“Hence it is of vital importance that we insure that improper or highly restrictive legislation is not placed into the Uniform Building Code. In this manner we can assist the ICBO and also be kept current with the latest data and methods of solving code problems.”
“The San Francisco Building Code is similar in many respects to the Uniform Building Code except that due to the high density population in the City and the number of high-rise office and multifamily structures within the city we require more specific requirements for the protection of life and property. The City is, therefore, best served by a code specifically designed for the environment of San Francisco.”
“The number of cases that come before the Board of Permit Appeals, a lay appellate body of the City, continues to be very large. This is one of three appellate boards available to the citizen, the others being the Board of Examiners, which is a technical review body, and another lay body in the field of housing, namely the Housing Appeals Board.
“As in previous years the main denial of permits of the Bureau that were heard by the Board of Permit Appeals involved fire safety and in the majority of cases the Board overruled the requirements of the Bureau.
“In our opinion, this has resulted in an elimination or lessening of the fire safety requirements, and we continue to be quite concerned over this continuing reduction in safety.”
“1965 was an active legislative year in California as the Legislature met in its biennial legislative session. Literally thousands of bills were presented and those affecting the building industry numbered in the hundreds.
“These bills generally fall into two categories, namely those which would extend the preemption of enforcement exemption by the State for certain classes of occupancies so that local agencies could not enforce a higher standard if it was felt necessary in that jurisdiction, and secondly regulations which would require excessively high standards to be enforced by the building official.
“In this latter category such requirements as the requirement of painting by permit was proposed and passed in 1963, and a proposed deletion of this requirement was defeated in the 1965 legislature but was sent to an Assembly Interim Committee for study in depth. These regulations are still under study so as to provide regulations which would not require impossible inspection procedures or standards with which the building officials would have to comply.
“Also in this latter type of legislation are those relating to requirements for soil investigations for each parcel of land to be built upon, a proposal to require that all buildings be constructed of incombustible or fire retardant materials with no exceptions, and regulations requiring that all glass doors, walls, and windows be regulated regardless of the location.
“The first two of these legislative bills were successfully amended after concerted efforts were made by the building officials and other interested parties in the State.”
“The activities in the legislative field are extremely time consuming. …San Francisco’s stated policy of local sovereignty is constantly being challenged on the State level as witnessed the State preemption tendency and the vast number of regulations constantly being proposed in the building field at the State level.”
“Throughout the fiscal year, a continuing and increasing amount of interest and activity within City government and especially among the industry, labor, property owners, and professional groups has been directed toward obtaining some consolidation of the inspection services involved in building construction.”
“Much of the past delay in permit processing and confusion has resulted from the fact that a building permit application must be reviewed by several departments, each having a veto power over its issuance.”
“Legislation to achieve this consolidation …is expected to be presented to the Board of Supervisors at an early date. One portion of the proposed legislation is a Charter Amendment to Section 36 of the Charter dealing with the powers of the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety; and the remainder dealing with City Planning, Department of Public Health, and Bureau of Engineering will be in the form of an ordinance. It is hoped the Charter Amendment will be on the November 1966 ballot.
“While not as wide-sweeping as the A. D. Little proposal, it will solve most of the problems of plan checking delays and conflict of orders of the several departments now having joint Jurisdiction over construction. In its proposed form it will vest in the Department of Public Works the basic authority and responsibility for plan checking and construction.”
“Almost as a direct result of the enactment of the new code provisions and simultaneous with the interest of the Federal Government in the matter of gaining a better understanding of the burning processes, the plastics industry undertook a study at the Illinois Institute of Technology to determine what sort of test program would result in a significant contribution in the new field.
“The Superintendent of Building Inspection was invited to become a member of an advisory group to plan the research. Several meetings of the advisory group were held in Chicago and a program of testing, together with a new test facility, was recommended. The field of burning and the products of combustion of plastics and other materials will be studied under varying conditions of physical arrangement of rooms as well as environment.”
“The San Francisco Code provisions form the basis of the recommended Code of the plastics industry today. The results of the test program at IIT will undoubtedly greatly influence future Code provisions. Only by conservative steps leading to the development of data does a Code progress and protect both the lives and property of the public while requiring only minimum standards.”
“The approved materials listings of all materials approved for use in San Francisco have finally been published by a private company in cooperation with the Bureau and are now available on a subscription basis. This listing consists, at present, of over nine hundred separate cards containing a description of the approved material, conditions attached to the approval, and a code number for the approval.
“The code number is the key to the filing of these cards in that it represents a coded description of the particular item. By using the code numbering system the file can be arranged by manufacturers either alphabetically or by subject or function.
“Bi-monthly supplements are to be issued to subscribers to keep the listing up to date with the latest approved materials. Copies of the listing have been obtained for each building inspector in the Bureau and are also located at the two building inspector counters.”
“One of the main comments received in the Bureau from users of the Building Code is, ‘Why can’t you use the same Occupancy designations as the Uniform Code?’.
“We have for some time been concerned with this matter as well as the Code format in general.
“People in California generally are familiar with the Uniform Building Code. Therefore, our occupancy numerical system is troublesome for someone versed in the Uniform Code’s alphabetical system, which is the same as is used in many other areas.
“Furthermore, there is no reason why a particular article in the San Francisco Building Code does not correspond as to subject with the Uniform Code, and, if possible, even sections should relate if they are on a similar subject.
“To this end an item was placed in this coming year’s budget to hire temporary personnel to effect this transition. This request was supported by the design professions. Unfortunately, it was deleted from the budget at final passage. We will attempt next year to obtain this needed revision so as to simplify the use and understanding of our Code by the construction industries.”
“The complete rewriting of the Electrical and Plumbing Codes continued during the year.”
“The detailed review of the codes being utilized to prepare the new Electrical Code has slowed down the timetable for completion of the draft; however, at the end of the fiscal year good progress was being made with meetings being held at a more frequent schedule…”
“Completion of the first draft is expected in early Spring 1967.
“The last portion of the proposed Plumbing Code was sent to industry groups in November 1965. …It is contemplated that the second draft will be sent to all review groups in the latter part of 1966 together with all replies to comments that were unreconciled in making the second draft. These ‘unreconciled’ comments, together with our reply, will be forwarded to the Chamber of Commerce for further review.”
“The extensive amounts of time required for code work, particularly in work on a new code or revision of existing codes, was the primary reason for requesting the additional Assistant Superintendent position that unfortunately was again disapproved in the 1966-67 budget.”
“There has been a continuing large number of cases which have been appealed to the Board of Permit Appeals. This Board is one of three appeals boards, the other two being the Housing Appeals Board, also a lay board, and the Board of Examiners…”
“The applicant in a given case always has the option of appearing before either of two Boards, and in some cases the option of all three to whom to present his case.
“As in previous years, the Bureau has been overruled by the Board of Permit Appeals on almost all cases presented to the Board.”
“The Chamber of Commerce, together with certain industry groups, undertook during 1966 to improve inspection operations, particularly the elimination of overlap of inspection services and also speeding up of permits. The overlap consisted of this Bureau, Bureau of Fire Prevention and Investigation of the Fire Department, and the Department of Public Health, all involved in inspection of residential buildings, and, to varying degrees, similar overlaps existed in other occupancies.
“In November 1966 Charter Amendment C on the ballot was passed, which spelled out the area of Jurisdiction of the Fire Department, limiting same to Title 19 Occupancies as designated by the State Fire Marshal’s Code and with the addition of hazardous occupancies.
“This eliminated, therefore, the duplication of inspection and plan checking for commercial office buildings and residential occupancies between this Bureau and the Fire Department. Upon passage of this charter amendment there were transferred to the Bureau of Building Inspection four fire inspectors to assist as advisors from the Fire Department on fire matters as well as to assist in code preparation. This transfer to the Bureau was effected in February 1967, with one inspector assigned to the Superintendent’s office, one to the Urban Renewal operation, and two to work with the district building inspectors.”
“This last year witnessed the increased pressures for preemption of the building code field simultaneously at the State level and at the Federal level, San Francisco’s historical position favoring home rule was the basis of this Bureau’s participation in activities to counteract this tendency.
“Appearances at the Building Standards Commission hearings and Federal meetings to present the arguments for home rule were undertaken by the Bureau. In addition, various interested organizations in the building industry inquired further into this matter in order to develop their own positions, and this involved meetings with industry groups on this critical subject.
“This is a very serious erosion of the basic home rule philosophy, and appears to be backed by certain minority factions in the building industry who feel that through the intervention of State or Federal governments they can get their materials used to a greater extent than going through the usual Code processes. A major campaign is under way based upon the mythical ‘Building Code mess’, which has been disproved by a number of authoritative investigations but is still a very catchy slogan.”
“The coming years will see still stronger attempts at a takeover made, which will require the concerted efforts of local government and the building industry to stop the empire building of the State and Federal Governments at the expense of the local public.”
“Firstly, the Code will be changed completely to follow the Uniform Building Code format and to adopt Uniform Building Code occupancy designations;
“Secondly, the Code revision will update the entire Code to the latest standards for steel, concrete, wood, etc.;
“Thirdly, it is intended that this Code revision undertake to solve some of the basic Code problems that have plagued this Bureau, as well as other Code bodies, in such areas as mixed occupancies, office building floor layouts, school occupancies, and many others.”
“The general philosophy of the Building Code changes undertaken are not to increase restrictiveness, but to open equal avenues of Code compliance by Code-accepted alternative construction and to eliminate those items that are no longer applicable or which have been replaced by later reference documents or procedures.
“Finally, it is to evaluate the restrictiveness of certain portions of the Code in the light of State and Uniform Building Code requirements and the needs of San Francisco.”
“In addition, it is proposed to revise the administrative portions of the Housing Code to reflect the changes due to consolidation of the Fire Department personnel and Health Inspection into the Bureau with concurrent transfers of duties.”
“The Board’s activities have increased as the precedents established by them are known to more and more individuals.
“At this time there are more than two times the number of appeals filed annually than in a comparable period six years ago, with no change in the number of permits handled by the Bureau nor with any increase in restrictiveness of the Code.
“The Bureau substantiates each and every appeal case with a letter outlining the matter before the Board, the Code violation, and the effect of said Code violation on the general public.
“The actions of this Board continue to erode the Bureau enforcement efforts, and there appears to be little that the Bureau can do to change the trend.”
“The overall total value of the construction work for which building permits have been issued is estimated to be $168,000,000, a decrease of 16% from the previous year.”
“At the close of the fiscal year, the Bureau’s effort toward the creation of a new Building Code and Housing Code was close to completion.
“These codes are being written with the cooperation and assistance of interested groups from industry, the professions, labor and government. Effective agreement has been reached with these groups on the great majority of topics under discussion.
“It is anticipated that these documents will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for their consideration in mid-September and hopefully become enacted into law by November.
“The Building Code reflects the latest developments and thinking in modern building technology.”
“Consulting design engineers are increasingly making use of electronic computers for the solution of complex problems involved in frame analysis of high rise buildings.
“Since the Bureau’s Engineers are charged with the responsibility of checking all structures for compliance with the Building Code it has been found necessary that they have access to a large capability electronic computer.
“Investigations toward this end have been conducted and an economical solution has been discovered. The Bureau intends to make use of a large capacity computer on a rental basis shared with other users. A small station is to be installed in the Bureau office which is connected to this computer by the use of telephone service.
“This program is scheduled to be effective in July 1968.
“The Housing Code often has less stringent requirements than those applying to new construction.
“In general, what was considered as legal when a building was built retains this legal status even though today’s standards are higher.
“Exceptions to this rule are related to basic health and safety hazards which are covered by specific retroactive requirements.”
“At issue is the preservation and protection of the records of building construction of San Francisco. These same records predating 1906 were destroyed by fire and earthquake in 1906. There has been no change in the system of protecting these records and, therefore, a similar catastrophe can occur wiping out City records.
“By the use of microfilming, duplicate sets can be prepared and stored in the City Records Center providing security for the records of the City.”
“The personnel attended various structural engineering conferences and training sessions to keep abreast of the rapidly changing techniques and technology in the construction industry.”
“The Code contains many changes, generally less restrictive. The policy of referring to nationally available standards rather than reprinting them was carried out to a greater degree than heretofore. Reference standards are now employed for lumber, plywood, plastering and wallboard in addition to the concrete and steel provisions. The Code became available to the public just prior to the end of the fiscal year at a price of $8.45.”
“Ductile concrete structures require considerable additional care in design and construction, and must meet the detailed requirements of the criteria established by test.”
“The required inspection and eventual anchoring or removal of hazardous parapets and exterior appendages on buildings would increase safety of the City population and visitors in the event of earthquakes. Falling parapets have been the No. 1 ‘killer’ in most earthquakes. Unfortunately, implementation of this ordinance was delayed due to lack of funds for the necessary staff resulting from deletion of the 1969-70 budget appropriations for staff and equipment.
“The Department went on record by letter to the Board of Supervisors that due to the deletion of staff for enforcing these retroactive provisions, the Department will not enforce same. It is expected that this matter will be reconsidered next year.”
“The new Building Code, therefore, contains no air conditioning or refrigeration provisions since no staff would be provided to enforce same. San Francisco is the only major city in the United States that does not have such inspection. It is the position of the Department of Public Works that no provisions of the Code should be enacted unless staff to provide enforcement is also furnished.”
“The new San Francisco Building Code adopted the format and occupancy designations as well as the sections of the Uniform Building Code so that we would be as close to that Code as was possible.”
“It is felt that only through support of the ICBO and by attempts to utilize as much as possible the Uniform Building Code provisions, can we retain home rule and stave off federal or state codes. Continued activities with both ICBO and the California Chapter of that organization were carried on throughout the year.”
“As a result of this continued attitude, the Bureau has refused to approve permits ordered to be issued by the Board when there is no equivalent furnished for the code requirements. Each case is examined individually, and with advice from the City Attorney, has requested that this request for advice be in writing.
“In the interim, while awaiting the City Attorney’s reply, the permit is held in abeyance. Where we are advised that we can refuse to abide by the Board’s ruling, abatement proceedings are commenced against the structure in order to bring about code compliance. This procedure has proven generally successful in resolving code deficiencies and gaining cooperation from the building owners.”
“In addition, reconsideration was begun of all previous approvals for fire-rated floor and roof assemblies containing exposed steel members. Consideration of temperature criteria for such steel is required by the new Building Code as there is no assurance otherwise that adequate safety factors exist.”
“The necessary funding to staff the parapet section was deleted by the Board of Supervisors from the 1969-70 budget.
“Due to the large increase in building permit activity, it is not possible to enforce these code provisions unless additional staff is provided.
“Therefore, the Bureau is on record that the parapet ordinance is not and cannot be enforced at this time due to budget cuts.”
“The Fire Commission has taken steps to define the area of Fire Department responsibility and activity. There are signs that a marked improvement of this important inter-relationship is in the making. The public will be the main benefactor.”
“Well over 3,000 buildings were inspected by the Division with slightly under 1,000 buildings having been brought into compliance. …About 150 cases originating in DAHI have been referred to the City Attorney for legal action.”
“In 1969, the major bills included those involving licensing of inspectors, State preemptive legislation on codes and factory built housing.
“In 1970, bills of major importance included reorganization of State code activities, tax moratorium on code compliance costs and State imposition of mandatory use of the uniform codes unless extensive justification were made for the use of local codes, licensing of inspectors, and changes in requirements for both public assembly and institutional occupancies.
“Unfortunately, there are increasingly being introduced preemptive legislation to remove, from the cities and counties, local control of local programs.
“This trend is based upon a widespread fallacy, that local government does not provide sufficient attention to those requirements and standards that raise the cost of building construction and that only the State can do the proper job.
“In spite of the fact that since this erroneous premise has been repeatedly proven to be unfounded and refuted by many national personages, most code legislation at the State level is still based upon that premise.
“Only by continual and intensive activity in this area can we assure, to the citizens of San Francisco, codes that reflect their concern with the hazards attendant to the construction and use of buildings.”
“However, within the continued high volume, certain changes in the ‘mix’ are occurring. Office building construction is again dominant whereas industrial construction has again decreased. Additionally, construction of wood frame buildings, mostly residential, increased by over fifty percent.”
“At the close of the fiscal year, final comments with regard to the third draft were in hand and the final preparation of the Code had been prepared for transmittal to the Board.
“This Code represents the first such complete revision since 1905 and is also the first code that is required by the State Health and Safety Law (AB 2300) to justify, by resolution of the Board, those variations from the Uniform Plumbing Code.
The Code, excepting for the administrative provisions, is virtually identical to the Uniform Plumbing Code except for approximately 20 percent for which there are no comparable provisions in the Uniform Plumbing Code. There is only 6 percent of the Code that differs from the Uniform Plumbing Code. The format of the new Code follows identically that of the Uniform Plumbing Code…”
“One omission, as compared to the Uniform Plumbing Code, is that plastic piping has not been specifically approved. Data has not been received to justify such inclusion. Mechanisms for inclusion through approval or code change are, however, provided for and mandatory reviews at three year intervals of the entire code are a basic requirement.
“It is hoped that the new Code will be adopted prior to the Fall of 1971; and for the first time since before the 1906 Earthquake, San Francisco will have a complete set of up-to-date code documents except for air conditioning and refrigeration.”
“The new San Francisco Electrical Code, prepared by a joint industry, construction and professional committee, was submitted to the Board of Supervisors and adopted in the Fall of 1970. This was a major document incorporating in one volume those provisions of the National Electrical Code, State Safety Orders and specific local regulations for use by contractors. It represented the first major update of the Electrical Code in San Francisco history and the first such single document to be used by the industry.”
“The last attempt to include permissive use of non-metallic cable, as presented by the Chamber of Commerce, was defeated by the Board of Supervisors by an overwhelming vote. It was the position of the Bureau to support the use of non-metallic cable in residential buildings of wood frame construction not exceeding four stories. However, this amendment was not included in the Code.”
“Increasing numbers of appeals are being filed relative to permits of the Department of Public Works. The main similarity in the permits being appealed involves or results from the Systematic Code Enforcement Program directed toward bringing apartment houses and hotels up to the Housing Code as part of our Workable Program commitments.
“Decisions, wherein the Board has waived compliance with the City’s laws, have been referred to the City Attorney to determine whether or not the Bureau must comply with the orders of the Board. During the fiscal year, 41 such cases were referred to the City Attorney. Evaluations in 30 of these cases, based upon transcripts, indicated that in 20 of the cases referred the conclusion by the City Attorney was that the Board had erred and that for 10 of the cases his advice was that the Bureau had to issue the permit.
“It should be noted that a request for funds to provide specifically for transcripts rather than using surplus funds was denied by the Finance Committee relative to the 1971-72 budget. It is hoped that we will continue to use surplus funds or that eventually a transcript appropriation will be authorized.
“A major problem in the obtaining of the transcripts is the length of time, running into months, before we obtain them. There is a substantial backlog of orders for transcripts unfilled with the court report of the Board of Permit Appeals. Similarly, the City Attorney has Bureau requests for opinions pending back to 1969 which have not been forwarded to this Bureau with his conclusions.
“In some cases, therefore, illegal conditions have been allowed to exist due to our need to wait for guidance from the City Attorney on the permits at issue.”
“It has long been the position of the Bureau of Building Inspection that one obligation that should be recognized by large jurisdictions is the participation in code development, based upon experience and expertise gained in these larger jurisdictions.
“The corollary to that is that code changes adopted by model code groups parallel those of San Francisco and thus strengthen the position of San Francisco and increase the protection of the public in all jurisdictions using the model codes.”
“It was expected that 1971 would be a quiet year in state legislation. However, by mid-Spring it became apparent that the contrary was to be true. Vast amounts of legislation, which in the main were found to be extremely bad, were introduced.
“Many of the changes involved increased state control of regulations and an entirely new group of legislation related to imposing a master appeal board at a regional or state level which, in fact, would have powers to overrule regulations or codes adopted by local governments.
“Much of the legislation would have been seriously adverse to San Francisco by lessening safety levels, increasing costs to be borne by taxpayers, and by removal of local control.
“With the recognition of the increasing pressures in the State Legislature to remove home rule, greater importance has been cast on the review of legislation within the Bureau and participation in the California Chapter of International Conference of Building Officials and legislative activities of National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Pacific Southwest Regional Council.
“Based upon this year’s activities, it can be expected that future years will reflect similar strong attempts into the areas of pre-emption, superposition of regional or state bodies over local governments and changes reflecting substitution of regulations at the state level for those at the city level.”
“The full scale review of the Building Code required at 3-year intervals was initiated in January 1972. It had been delayed for a few months until the new Plumbing Code was adopted. In the review, all changes adopted in the last 3 years in the Uniform Building Code will be considered and most of them will be incorporated into the code.
“One major addition to the code will be ‘Life Safety Requirements for High Rise Buildings’ involving fire protection systems. These requirements will also be considered for incorporation later in the year into the Uniform Building Code. As usual the code changes will be sent for review and comments to over 100 groups and individuals so as to obtain the maximum benefit of such critical evaluation. It is expected that the code change process will be completed by March 1973.”
“Due to the controversial nature of some portions, work on this code proceeded at various times during the past seven years, including review and comment by over 80 groups and individuals.”
“The program continued at the same level as in previous years since 1967 when this function for multi-family housing was transferred to the Bureau of Building Inspection. For the first time, the number of buildings brought into code compliance reached almost 1,000; that is, the same number of structures in which a complete inspection was made this year in the systematic program. The continued effort on the part of the staff to bring pressure upon owners to bring buildings up to minimum Housing Code levels is apparently succeeding. The Bureau emphasis is to rehabilitate rather than to demolish.”
“Other legislation introduced in the recent legislative session include thermal insulation requirements, sound insulation requirements, making all records of building investigation open and public including those listing violations found under the Systematic Code Enforcement Program. Other legislative proposals include those that would further add taxes on the building permit issuance fees to be collected by localities. It is apparent that the Legislature has found a method by which it can tax without a vote of the people and without being equitable but rather taxing only special groups; namely, those filing for permits.”
“The Bureau’s need for microfilming of building plans and records has been increasing each year as less space is available for storage of these essential documents. In 1971 the State passed legislation requiring the protection on a permanent basis of these records by all agencies and indicated that microfilming was a permissible means of doing so. The Bureau in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce Building Code Committee has been working toward the realization of such a system. It is expected that proposals for financing and contracting for such a system will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors prior to the end of 1972.”
“The Board of Permit Appeals procedures have continued to erode the distinction between those cases under its jurisdiction and those which are not subject to their jurisdiction. The problem of their overruling the code requirements continues at approximately the same level as in previous years. Their new approach is that though a permit has not been denied, the Board has seen fit to take these matters under their consideration and has ruled on these matters even though the Charter requires that a permit be denied to be heard by the Board.
“In addition, the Board has ruled on matters that are technical in nature rather than referring them to the appeals boards with the expertise in the technical areas such as the Board of Examiners for the Plumbing, Building, and Electrical Codes.
“The Superintendent has continued to select those cases where he believes the Board has clearly ignored the law of the City and/or State and has referred those cases to the City Attorney. It is the stated position of the Bureau of Building Inspection that it cannot be an administrator of an illegal act. We will continue to proceed in this same manner whenever we believe the Board has violated the law by waiving specific code requirements.”
“In May 1973 the triennial review of the building code was completed with approximately 225 code changes enacted into law. These changes range from editorial corrections to completely overhauled articles of the code. In addition new code provisions were added relating to life safety systems in high rise buildings, aluminum for structural use, etc.
“As in the past, the code review was assisted to a very great extent by the abilities of the professional associations and most particularly the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Building Code Committee. However, the work involved in producing the code changes has been carried by the Superintendent for the past 10 years and unless there is staff added to the Bureau, future code changes will be jeopardized. The changes enacted parallel many of those in the Uniform Building Code and maintain the San Francisco Code in close relationship thereto.”
“As required by the 1970 Electrical Code, the triennial review of said code was commenced. Requests for code change recommendations were sent to all parties on the mailing list. The Electrical Industry Trust established a code advisory committee to assist the Bureau in the code review process. It is anticipated that the code changes will include those needed to correct ambiguity or errors and those changes based upon the latest National Electrical Code that are consistent with the level of safety desired by San Francisco. The code change review will extend in all probability to late 1973 or early 1974.”
“As a result of continued pressure by the Federal government involving jeopardizing millions of dollars of federal assistance, the Director of Public Works in September approved the use of plastic ABS and PVC piping for drain, waste and vent use in accordance with the installation provision of the Uniform Plumbing Code.”
“It is the position of the Bureau to enforce the ruling of the Director while still retaining a negative position regarding the lack of technical data to support such use.”
“The concern nationally, as a result of fires in high rise buildings, prompted the development of new approaches to life safety in these buildings. The Superintendent chaired a committee of the Uniform Building Code (UBC) organization that developed a series of code provisions to assure a higher degree of life safety than the previous code provisions furnished.
“At the same time similar provisions were proposed as part of the triennial code changes to the San Francisco Building Code. The UBC code changes were adopted in September 1972 and the San Francisco changes in May 1973 as part of the overall code changes. Even prior to the adoption and as early as 1971, owners and architects for 6 buildings voluntarily proposed to incorporate these life safety provisions in their buildings. These include the Transamerica, Southern Pacific, Metropolitan Life, Western Merchandise Mart, and Standard Oil. The development and incorporation of this new concept in life safety is a direct result of the cooperative attitude now present in the Fire Department administration and the activities of the several code committees of the professions and the Chamber of Commerce.”
“A major step toward both the preservation of the building records of the city as well as increasing the accessibility of these records was achieved when the Board of Supervisors adopted ordinances to develop the necessary funds by surcharging permits and licenses. The added costs for these permits and licenses go to a special fund to develop the system. It is anticipated that in 1975 the system will be operative… This system and the development of same came about through the close cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce Building Code Committee and the Bureau…”
“The new two-year legislative term has not yet slackened the flood of bills that are introduced annually. The Superintendent reviews the bills for departmental recommendations as well as on behalf of the California Chapter ICBO and the California Information Center on Community Development. Only by continued vigilance and critical analysis can an effective legislative job be done.”
“Because of the short-staff situation and the inability of Civil Service to fill our personnel needs, the enforcement of the Parapet Ordinance has been held in abeyance. It is anticipated, however, that the new fiscal year will see the staffing, including staffing for the Parapet Section, brought up to its full complement through the advent of a forthcoming Civil Service examination for the new classification of Structural Engineer for Plans Approval Division.”
“The establishment of a new classification, i.e. Structural Engineer with a 10% higher salary than Civil Engineer, was approved after a series of objections were made by unions representing existing classes. Strong support for the new classification by the construction industry was instrumental in the success in setting up the new engineering grades. It is contemplated that one of the Structural Engineers to be hired will head the Parapet Section.”
“The schedule at present would be for approval by September 1974 by both Civil Service and the Board of Supervisors of the proposed reorganization. The necessary examinations would then be held for the positions to be filled such that by the April 1st date the Bureau could begin under its new operational arrangement. Failing to satisfactorily complete the reorganization, the Superintendent has decided that many of the activities of the Bureau presently undertaken by it with inadequate staff would have to be eliminated or seriously curtailed.”
“The State Legislature has been enacting legislation over the last three years increasing the amount of overlap between local government and state agencies. Furthermore, they have been, in the bills they consider, writing code at the legislative level rather than providing enabling legislation which would allow the use of the Uniform Building Code or equivalent.
“As a result, there have been serious problems developing with state agencies thru both the Legislature’s code writing activities as well as the activities of state agencies duplicating code enforcement regulations and activities. These include the State Fire Marshal and the Division of Industrial Safety enforcing the California-OSHA regulations.
“Serious concern exists throughout the State of California and including fire authorities over this new development at the state level which will result in serious overlaps and conflicts between local ordinances and state regulations.”
“The Superintendent, acting through the California Chapter ICBO, will attempt to work with the Division of Industrial Safety to resolve that problem; but as with Federal OSHA, there is a serious lack of awareness on the part of the state enforcement authorities as to the scope of the problem and, in fact, as to the details involved in code enforcement at the local level.
“The code activities of the State Fire Marshal will cause serious problems to the City of San Francisco particularly in the area of existing high-rise buildings wherein they have the authority through state law to adopt regulations retroactively applicable to them. Working with the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, it is hoped that these regulations can be made realistic in their application to existing buildings.
“The Department of Housing and Community Development adopted noise and energy regulations in February 1974 applicable to all new construction effective August 1974 and February 1975 respectively. The Commission of that department is aware of serious problems existing and deficiencies in the regulations and have been urged that they be rectified at an early date. At the close of the fiscal year, no such rectification was made.”
“This is another example of the lack of awareness on the part of state officials as to what is needed for code enforcement activities when a mandated program is legislated into being and the regulations for such a program are to be developed. Unless such regulations are meaningful and enforceable, there is no way in which the Legislature’s intent can be carried out.
“The blame for failure to enforce will be laid at the local building official’s level since he is charged with said enforcement. It is the responsibility of state agencies, when charged by the Legislature to prepare regulations, that they do so in a way that will permit enforcement and not in a theoretical or impractical method or by utilization of regulations which are inadequate or incomplete.”
“Increasingly there has been a greater degree of activity of Federal agencies entering the code field. This is evidenced by the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Consumer Product Safety Act, as well as the Fire Prevention Act now being considered in Congress at this time.
“All of these areas will cause increased incursions into the building code field and will cause problems in this City and County resulting from overlaps and duplications of authority.
“The Superintendent is active at the national level in all these areas, attempting to eliminate as much as possible the overlapping jurisdictional areas. It is too early to determine whether the actions taken by him, through the American Society of Civil Engineers in concert with other professional societies, will be effective but it is hoped so.”
“A Structural Engineer was appointed and assigned in April to the newly activated Parapet Safety Section to implement a program of enforcement for the Parapet Ordinance (Article 2.5 of the San Francisco Building Code).
“By the middle of June the physical office facilities were set up, and two building inspectors and a senior clerk stenographer were hired and trained. Program procedures, policies, and technical criteria were formulated and were sent for review to various groups in the design and planning professions. Feedback from these groups was incorporated into the program. Preliminary field surveys to identify hazardous parapets and ornamentations, and the sending of correction notices to owners, were started during the last week of June.
“The field surveys were started in the Union Square area and are proceeding on a systematic, block-by-block basis. Phase 1 of the program will cover 170 square blocks in the Downtown, Financial, Chinatown, and South-of-Market areas. Based on the initial rate of progress being made, it will take approximately four years to complete the surveys and to have the hazards abated under Phase 1.”
“The proposed reorganization discussed in last year’s report was fully approved by the Civil Service Commission and the Board of Supervisors with funding commencing July 1, 1975. Recruitment of the new middle management staff through examinations was initiated. Examination filing deadlines were kept open due to inadequate response. It is hoped that by the Fall of 1975 the staff will have been employed and the reorganization will have become operative.”
“The microfilm contract neared completion at the end of the fiscal year with final stages expected to be completed by September 1975. Over $265,000 has been collected from the several surcharges imposed to pay for the work of the contractor and to purchase the in-house capability for the continuation of the work. All plans and applications were filmed and the final work to be done involves insertion of application film into IBM type aperture cards and then sorting same into street address order.”
“Begun during early 1974 was the program to convert to a microfilm system for retention of building permit records. The ongoing program has, at this writing, produced approximately 2,500,000 microfilm document frames of various records including all plan documents, permit applications and inspection records. Approximately three thousand square feet of storage floor space has been released thereby for other uses.”
“Due to the financial crisis of the Cities, the 1973 Building Code amendments were never printed by the City. Under the old procedures, the City put up all the funds needed to print the changes or new code and then charged enough per copy to recapture its outlay over a period of time. The Superintendent had recommended in 1969 that to speed up the process as well as to lessen the cost to the City of coming up with the front money, that there be an alternate approach used, namely to have a private printer do the job with his own capital and then to permit him to sell the codes to recapture his costs. This is the procedure used by the City of Los Angeles for many years.
“Finally in early fall 1974, the Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors with the advice of the City Attorney and approval of the Purchaser, all agreed to institute this procedure for the Building Code and all future City codes and ordinances. The printing firm agreeing to do this was the one presently doing the Los Angeles codes, the Building News Company of Los Angeles.
“In early June the Building Code was completed with over twenty amendments including the major 1973 changes incorporated therein. It was placed on public sale on June 24, 1975. It represented a recodification, as well as a reprinted document.”
“Immediately thereafter the Plumbing and Electrical Codes have been similarly started into the process with completion expected in the fall of 1975.”
“Another new era of enforcement activity placed upon the Bureau is the recently enacted security requirements ordinance. A proposed amendment to correct an inequity in regard to new buildings has been submitted and will probably be adopted by September 1975.
“These requirements will involve all multifamily residential buildings, both new and existing.
“For new buildings, once the proposed amendment is approved, all hotel and apartment entry doors will have to have one-inch deadbolt locks and all doors and windows within eight feet of the ground will have to have approved locks.
“For existing buildings, the same requirements will apply commencing January 1980 on a retroactive basis. The Bureau will advise owners of the need for the locks and upon noting non-compliance will refer the matter to the Police Department who will issue citations for each violation with a gradually increasing fine assessed.
“These ordinances are another ‘new’ area of code enforcement placed upon the Bureau and which are not strictly health and safety oriented in the traditional sense.”
“The Systematic Housing Code Enforcement program for apartment houses and hotels is the direct responsibility of the Division of Apartment House and Hotel Inspections. In the past year, new procedures to step up the pressures on owners to comply were initiated.
“One action has been to notify all those having any financial interest in a property, i.e. the owner, the mortgage holder, the lenders of any outstanding loans etc. of pending abatement hearings by the Director about the property and also advising them that the permit of occupancy has been revoked due to non-compliance. Since most mortgages require that there be a valid permit of occupancy for the property at all times, this brings very considerable pressure upon owners to comply.
“Another assist has been the result of State Assembly Bill 475 enacted in 1974 and introduced by Assemblyman Willy Brown. This law permits the enforcement official (the Superintendent) to notify the Franchise Tax Board of any rental residential property wherein the owner has failed to abate the code violations within six months after being advised of same. If not appealed or if the appeal is not sustained, the Franchise Tax Board then prohibits any tax exemptions from state taxes that the owner normally takes for his property.
“This has had a very powerful effect upon owners since in many cases the only profit they can see is that provided by the tax deductions on their income property. Over 3700 notices of this new law were sent to all owners of property in the code compliance pipe line.”
“Finally, a very aggressive program of court hearings has been pursued by Assistant City Attorney Ed Johnson for those cases condemned by the Director of Public Works in which the owner has failed to abate the violations. The rate of compliance actively resulting from the actions of the City Attorney’s office in the past year is truly astounding, and full credit must be given to that office and Mr. Johnson in particular.”
“At the federal, state and local levels in the past two years there have been increasing concerns over conflict of interest rules governing elected, appointed and other officers of government. This is a valid concern in the post-Watergate era and is probably overdue. However, the 1974 Charter amendment in San Francisco has so tightened the conflict of interest rules, particularly as interpreted by the City Attorney, as to jeopardize the continuation of the Board of Examiners. In a related conflict of interest opinion involving one Board of Examiners member and a contract involving certain federal assistance to a city contract for the Municipal Railway, the Board member had to resign from the Board.
“The City Attorney has stated that, as a result of the Charter amendment, any Board member found to have any interest at all in a case coming before the Board can no longer abstain from participating in the hearing but must resign. The situation would be that a sub-contractor appealing a minor plumbing matter for a major building that might have had one of the Board members involved in either the structural or architectural design, that Board member would automatically have to resign even though he was in no way aware or involved in the appeal item.
“A proposed Charter amendment to lessen such harsh impact of the present provisions has been introduced. Unless it is passed by the electorate, the Board of Examiners will cease to exist in a relatively short time.
“The Board established by the 1956 Building Code, is unique in the country. It is made up of the most eminent men in their respective fields. Its scope of operations in the past eighteen years has been outstanding and has provided an essential service to the City and the construction industry. In its years of service there has never been anything but praise for the professionalism of its members. The conflict of interest rules have unfortunately claimed the innocent while searching for the guilty.”
“The Superintendent spent a very considerable amount of time throughout the year, directly involved in attempting to modify the proposed high-rise regulations for existing buildings so as to make them reasonably acceptable.”
“In December 1974, the Fire Marshal adopted his regulations on an emergency basis. In March 1975, he held hearings in San Francisco and Los Angeles at which time opposition of a considerable amount was evidenced, primarily at the San Francisco hearing. Following the March hearing, the Fire Marshal revised his regulations to a minor degree and again issued them on an emergency basis, with further hearings to be held the first week of July 1975. Very strong opposition was marshalled throughout the state during May and June for these pending hearings and the matter is still not resolved. The basic issues are the excessive requirements imposed by the proposed regulations and their very considerable cost.
“Many of the requirements exceed those needed or authorized by the Legislature and are therefore needlessly costly to the building owners. Another major issue is the failure to provide due process for enactment of retroactive regulations. The regulations have been prepared by the State Fire Marshal, hearings have been held by him without his answering to anyone as to the need or justification for any provision and the final determination as to the effect of the hearings is made by the State Fire Marshal. Any appeals as to proper enforcement are to be made to the State Fire Marshal. The constitutional question raised by this process may involve lawsuits.”
“In Feb. 1975, the California Court of Appeals ruled in S.F. vs Dolan that the sale of bonds for RAP was constitutional. This decision was upheld on appeal to the State Supreme Court in March 1975.
“An IRS ruling has been requested to determine whether the bonds will be tax exempt. This ruling is expected in August 1975.
“HUD has released $598,606 in Community Development Special Revenue Sharing funds for administration, relocation benefits, hardship loan interest subsidy, acquisition for rehabilitation/resale, and temporary rent payments in the Inner Richmond RAP area.
“An Environmental Impact Report is being prepared by the Department of City Planning for the Upper Ashbury RAP area. This EIR should be completed in November 1975.”
“The Parapet Safety Program has completed its first year of operation. From July thru January, a total of 63 square blocks, containing 850 buildings, were surveyed for potential hazards during earthquakes, and 700 of them received citations to investigate and/or correct various features.
“At that point the surveys and issuance of citations were halted pending a reassessment of the Program by the Board of Examiners.
“The Parapet Ordinance is a brief, performance oriented statement. The absence of specific requirements, coupled with some unfortunate areas of ambiguity, permits differing interpretations as to what the ordinance requires.”
“As some cited owners began obtaining estimates of costs for investigations and repairs, it appeared that these costs in many cases would be much higher than anticipated. …There were fears that owners would generally opt for removal of these architectural features because removal would prove to be the least expensive method of compliance. Together with owners, these groups formed a Parapet Task Force to explore various courses of action. The group was instrumental in getting the Board of Examiners to review the entire Program.
“The Board of Examiners appointed a parapet technical advisory committee, composed of members from the SEA and AIA, to work with the Bureau in revising the policies and technical criteria.”
“It is expected that, with Program requirements now clearly defined by the Board of Examiners, and not likely to be changed to any significant extent, the Program will move forward at a more rapid pace.”
“The reorganization of the management structure of the Bureau …basically consists of the addition of four management positions: Assistant Superintendent, Property Conservation; Assistant Superintendent, Administration; Building Code Analyst; and Senior Systems and Procedures Analyst.”
“During the fiscal year, the Assistant Superintendent, Property Conservation was financed and filled, but the other three positions were frozen. The former Superintendent took the position that without these positions the Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RAP) could not be implemented, due to the drain on the Superintendent’s and Deputy Superintendent’s time. This standoff was well covered in the news media. The new Superintendent agreed to start the RAP program provided a high level position in the Property Conservation Division, previously unfunded, was restored. This was done, and the RAP program will proceed.”
“In March of 1976, a favorable IRS ruling was received which designated the RAP bonds as tax exempt. This should allow a lower interest rate on these revenue bonds when sold to generate rehabilitation loan funds. Such funds will then be lent by the City to property owners in designated RAP areas. The bonds have not as yet been sold because the RAP start up has been delayed due to a dispute with the Board of Supervisors as to the need for additional top administrative positions in the Bureau.”
“RAP will begin in the Inner Richmond as soon as the bonds are sold (estimated to be November 1976) and the Upper Ashbury (February 1977), after the EIR/EIS and public improvement plan has been approved by the Board and the Mayor.”
“In the 1974-75 Annual Report there was a discussion of these regulations. During this fiscal year, additional opposition, especially from the San Francisco area, together with the appointment of a new State Fire Marshal, led to further changes to the proposed regulations.
“These changes removed many of the overly restrictive requirements and high cost items that provided questionable benefits.
“A remaining requirement still of serious concern is that all doors in high rise apartments and hotels must be at least one and three-eighths inch (1-3/8″) thick solid core doors. There are many thousands of wood panel doors in such buildings which do not meet this requirement. Their replacement, or in lieu of that, the installation of a sprinkler system in the corridors, will be a very costly item, and is believed to be of questionable need.
“Public hearings were held in May and June. With the elimination or lessening of many of the restrictive provisions, there was little opposition expressed at the hearings, and it is expected they will become effective in the next month or two.
“While the Fire Department is the enforcing agency, nevertheless building, electrical, and many times, plumbing, permits will have to be secured to perform the necessary work. A joint inspection by the Fire Inspector and the Building Inspector will be required for each building, as well as construction inspections during the period of the alteration work. We estimate there are about 700 buildings in the City that fall into this high-rise category. With only a three year period allowed to bring all of these buildings into compliance, a substantial additional workload will be placed on our already overstrained staff.”
“On December 12, 1975, a very serious and tragic fire occurred at the Gartland Apartments, 495 Valencia Street, and at least 12 persons lost their lives. The fire was set in a stairwell by an arsonist, and spread by means of an unenclosed stairway. Such stairways are violations of the Housing Code. This tragedy again pointed out the problems of an abatement procedure which gives property owners who do not wish to correct code violations too many means of delay, and also the problems of understaffing in our Housing Code enforcement groups…”
“The Division of Apartment and Hotel Inspection is responsible for this program. During the fiscal year, the residential environment inspectors made 1495 complete survey inspections and reports to owners, and additionally made required routine periodic inspections. This brings the total to approximately 9000 buildings, containing 90,000 units, out of a total of 18,000 apartment and hotel buildings with 180,000 units. These buildings have been selected on the basis of a rating giving priority to the inspection of the 1000 most hazardous buildings each year over the past nine years.”
“State Assembly Bill 475, authored by Assemblyman Willie Brown, has been in effect since January 1975. Under this law, an owner of rental property loses his California State income tax exemptions connected with the property if he fails to correct his code violations within 6 months of being notified by the Superintendent. …This has been a most valuable tool in the Bureau’s housing code enforcement efforts.”
“In the Building, Plumbing and Electrical Codes there is a provision that the Codes be reviewed on a triennial basis and necessary changes be made to update the Codes for new technology, to remove ambiguities and include various changes mandated by the State. While this Code work requires a substantial time commitment from the top level personnel of the Bureau, it is necessary if our codes are to remain current and provide a reasonable degree of safety and health at a minimum construction cost.
“We are commencing this review of the Building Code and soliciting suggestions from over 100 professional, industry, property owner, and citizen groups. We will review the Uniform Building Code changes, as well as changes in State law and suggested changes by our staff in this update. It is hoped this review will be completed …by the fall of 1978.”
“A similar review of the Electrical Code is being undertaken by the Electrical Trust. They have formed a committee of professionals, contractors, labor union personnel, and public members to update the San Francisco Electrical Code using the National Electrical Code as a model. Personnel from the Bureau will be active on this committee.”
“One of the recommendations of the Housing Rehabilitation Study, sponsored by the Department of City Planning, was the institution of a mandatory pre-sale inspection ordinance for residential property. This would require that an inspection be made of all residential buildings to determine whether or not there were any Code violations, with the inspection report furnished to the buyer prior to the transfer of such property.”
“The State was active in the field of regulations which the City must adopt or enforce. The Department of Housing and Community Development has just adopted new housing regulations which affect access requirements for the handicapped, and plumbing fixture installation, primarily in residential buildings. …These regulations must be adopted by the State Building Standards Commission before they become effective.”
“The retroactive high-rise requirements promulgated by the State Fire Marshal, …became effective early this year, with the Fire Department as the lead agency. These will involve joint inspections by our building inspectors with the Fire Department inspectors to determine the necessary corrections which must be made. It then requires construction review by our building, plumbing and electrical inspectors, and will put a serious additional load on them, especially in the downtown area.”
“A new Energy Code has been adopted by the State Energy Commission for non-residential buildings, to be enforced by the local building inspection departments, and to be effective January 1, 1978. This is a performance code, and involves detailed energy computations by the design engineers and checking by our plan checkers. It will involve substantial additional training for plan checking, and additional complex items for review by our plan check engineers. Revisions for residential building energy requirements are also being promulgated by the State, to become effective later next year.”
“The Superintendent was active in two Code Committees of the International Conference of Building Officials. He was chairman of the committee for testing of spray-on fire protection for high-rise buildings. This group studied various proposed changes to the Uniform Building Code (upon which the San Francisco Code is modeled) and it is expected that the adoption of several of these proposals will be voted on by the organization membership at the 1978 meeting. Among these is a test for damageability of material which was developed in San Francisco. Another committee on which the Superintendent served dealt with the use of plastics in concealed spaces of major buildings, such as ceilings and walls. Several code changes were promulgated by the committee for vote for inclusion in the Uniform Code, and subsequent adoption in the San Francisco Code. It is important that the City have input into the model code work, as it forms a basis for our Code.”
“This Division is responsible for the Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP). On the basis of a rating made ten years ago establishing the degrees of hazard in the city’s hotels and apartment buildings, complete inspections of rated structures have been carried out on a priority basis, whereby each succeeding year the next most hazardous buildings are examined.
“During the past year, a study of maps maintained by the Fire Department revealed that the Mission District is the only area in the City where the number of deaths due to fire has risen over the past ten years. This disclosure led to a 50% increase in the penalty point ratings previously established for the Mission, and the program in that area has been accelerated accordingly.”
“The Abatement Section of the Bureau of Building Inspection is responsible for preparing cases for possible litigation when property owners refuse or are unable to bring their buildings into code compliance.”
“A very aggressive program of court hearings has been pursued by the City Attorney for those cases condemned by the Director of Public Works in which the owners have failed to abate the violations.
“The rate of compliance actively resulting from the actions of the City Attorney’s office in the past year is truly astounding and full credit must be given to that office.”
“The Parapet Safety Program made slower than expected progress during its second year of operation. The rapid initial inspections during the first year, coupled with the significant changes made to the Program, gave rise to more paperwork and time demands from the public than could be handled by the limited office staff.
“In order not to compound the problem, no new survey inspections were made during the fiscal year. However, progress was made in bringing into compliance buildings already cited.
“…As the two year deadline for compliance approaches for the earliest inspected buildings, preparations are being made to obtain compliance through legal procedures. It is anticipated that a few favorable court decisions will help significantly to increase the rate of compliance by owners.”
“At the start of the Program, various groups that are interested in the City’s environment and appearance expressed concern over the impact the Program may have on these characteristics of the City. They were instrumental in limiting the Program essentially to parapets, cornices, freestanding statuary, chimneys, and roof tanks. …In almost all cases, the most economical correction has proved to be bracing the parapets and providing roof-to-wall anchors.”
“Additionally, the work performed to date has not included buildings with terra cotta or masonry cornices and statuary. Costs for corrections on such buildings are likely to be much higher. While relatively small in number, they are likely to be buildings of greater historical or architectural significance.”
“A review of the Building Code is expected to commence early in 1979. This review is expected to compare each section of the San Francisco Code with the Uniform Building Code (which is used as a base by the State) with the expectation of making the San Francisco Code more similar to the Uniform Code as well as clarifying and up-dating it. It is hoped that the professional groups will aid the Bureau in this time consuming comparison.”
“The Superintendent is a member of an ad hoc committee composed of various state-wide interests, appointed by the State Fire Marshal to consider updating the State Title 19 regulations concerning high-rise construction, and is a member of the subcommittee considering the detail changes. Considerable effort during the last year was expended on the definition of a high rise building, especially one on sloping terrain. This matter is, of course, of great concern to San Francisco, with its hillside building lots. The subcommittee meetings alternated between San Francisco and Los Angeles with occasional trips to Sacramento for full ad hoc committee meetings, and up to this time the Superintendent has attended all meetings. With the advent of Proposition 13, it is expected that there will be no funds available to attend the Los Angeles meetings, but it is still expected that local meetings will be attended…”
“…the non-residential State Energy regulations became effective on June 30, 1978 for all nonresidential building permits which were not issued by that date. Until that time, there were no requirements for energy conservation for non-residential structures. These regulations cover the insulation of the building envelope, requirements on sizing and use of heating and ventilating systems, and the use of electricity in building lighting.
“The regulations and the design studies are quite complex, and it is expected that there will be confusion and many errors by the designers, and confusion and many interpretations needed to be made by the Bureau in the checking of the energy design. The State was responsible for preparing a manual, a computer program for certain phases of the design, and the training of building department personnel. The State has not met their commitment since the computer program is not available, and the training program was very meager.”
“Many of the proposed additional restrictions for residential buildings were challenged in court and at this time they are not operative.”
“This was the third year of operation for the Parapet Safety Program. Although the Parapet and Appendages Retroactive Provisions have been in the building code since 1969, it was first funded in 1975.”
“Response from property owners who have been notified of potentially hazardous parapets has been very poor. A small number have been diligent and have taken out building permits to correct cited hazards.”
“At the present time, most of the applications filed for parapet work are the result of our referring delinquent buildings to the Director of Public Works for public hearings.
“The possibility of having a building condemned forces about two thirds of those cited to proceed in obtaining a building permit. The preceding procedure is very time consuming and expensive for the results obtained. It is planned to try to encourage more voluntary compliance by a further explanation of the program.
“This Bureau reviews plans and inspects construction involving structural, electrical, mechanical and plumbing work throughout the City to ensure compliance with the San Francisco Building, Plumbing, Electrical and Housing Codes. As of June 30, 1979, there were 165 employees in the Bureau…”
“Top priority has been given to the smoke and heat detection program to be completed in 80/81.”
“Being a Bureau that functions largely for the private sector, the future is dependent upon the general economic conditions. At the present time there is no indication that the predicted recession has had any noticeable effect on the work of the Bureau.
“Adequate staffing of the various divisions has been a problem in the past; although the work load has increased the staff has not. Any additional legislated duties required of the Bureau without equal reduction in other duties could seriously affect the efficiency of the operation of the Bureau.”
“Provides inspections and enforces code compliance for areas adopted by the Board of Supervisors. This program, which began in the Inner Richmond in December 1976, and the Upper Ashbury in May 1977, was extended to North of Market in April 1978.
“North of Market RAP has since been held up by questions of funding hotel rehabilitation. RAP staff are prepared to implement the program immediately upon solution of the funding problem.”
“A computerized permit tracking system is in the final planning stages and should be installed in 1981. This will be an effective tool to refine the permit process and shorten the overall process time.”
“This program began in the Inner Richmond where 1196 buildings with 2234 dwelling units were inspected and brought into code compliance.”
“A RAP area, North of Market, was designated in December of 1977 but problems in selling RAP bonds for the area has delayed start up. There has now been agreement by the Urban Investment Committee of the Bank of America to buy RAP bonds for residential rehabilitation only. Inspection of apartment buildings in North of Market will start up by December 1981.”
“Due to deep cuts in Community Development Block Grants, the RAP/ Community Development Program may be entering its final year of existence. …The program has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the City’s housing stock with minimum disruption and dislocation.
“The events and achievements of the past year were overshadowed by the death of Superintendent Robert C. Levy on May 20, 1985. His talents, knowledge of codes, dedication, and national stature are irreplaceable. He has left an indelible imprint upon the face of this City, the Bureau of Building Inspection, and the Department of Public Works. His legacy includes the Broadway Tunnel, code innovations in fire safety and emergency exiting, and national leadership in the continuing evolution of building codes.”
“Buildings Surveyed 18 31
“Applications Processed 168 134
“Inspections Made 501 333
“Buildings in Compliance 225 202
“Cases Sent to Abatement 21 63
“Cases Sent to City Attorney 23 21”
“On July 1, 1988, the Bureau became a ‘Special Fund’ entity rather than part of the general fund. Its services would be paid for by the inspection and permit fees that we collect.
“Though the Bureau’s permit activity increased by 28% and code violation complaint activity increased by 16%, the number of staff remained consistent, and we were able to process 94% of all applications for permits in 30 days or less.
“The Board of Supervisors supported our continuing efforts in the area of code enforcement, passing legislation to increase code enforcement penalty fees and expanded service fees.”
“Included in this legislation, and in response to the public’s concerns on various code enforcement issues regarding disabilities access, the Bureau established a Disability Access Program for coordination of information regarding all issues dealing with disabilities access. The Bureau hired a Disability Access Coordinator, who will provide training to Bureau and City employees regarding disability access. He will also be the legislative and public liaison, and the code consultant for all disability access issues.
“Plans Approval and Housing Inspection Divisions cooperated in developing a handbook explaining the State mandated Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance (CECO). The handbook is ready for issuance.”
“The devastating earthquake of October 17 provided the Bureau with its greatest challenge. Within minutes, BBI received reports of significant damage across the entire City. Phones were down, power was out, and towards the Bay, smoke could be seen billowing towards the sky. The needs of the public were overwhelming, and all too soon darkness began to fall.
“By 5:30 p.m., Bureau personnel had completed the first comprehensive inspection of City Hall and steps were taken to secure the structure. Other teams fanned out to inspect other municipal buildings. By 5:45 p.m., a task force had set up a command station downtown to begin a detailed evaluation of damage to that area. Other personnel began to mobilize at the Army Street Yard and throughout the night, the Bureau responded to reports of damaged and collapsed buildings, City wide. The Bureau waited for morning and planned for the worst that daylight might bring.
“The following day all available personnel were dispatched from Army Street throughout the City. The Bureau began an immediate evaluation of each district. Hundreds of buildings were checked and the Bureau started its first comprehensive list of damaged buildings. A Marina command post was established and a house-by-house check was made. Inspectors and engineers risked their lives entering buildings which later collapsed.
“By Thursday, a new post was opened at the Marina Middle School. Comprehensive services started to become available to the public. All employees from the Bureau pitched in. Although the staff of the Bureau had received a minimal amount of training in the area of interacting, directing, deciding, counseling, and otherwise dealing with a crisis situation that involved such high levels of stress and emotion, they handled themselves in an exemplary fashion. The staff demonstrated untold amounts of courtesy, patience, and overall concern for their fellow humans. The earthquake assessment procedure became more than a job, it became a pursuit to restore life to normal.
“The number of inspections and quantity of services provided by Bureau personnel was truly incredible. During the first 72 hours, over 1,600 inspections were performed.”
“Today, the Bureau is still deeply involved in earthquake related activities. The Code Enforcement Division (CED) is still engaged in follow-up earthquake damaged buildings. …The events of October 17 are something that the Bureau will need to address and continue to work on for many years to come.”
“The Commercial Tenant Improvement (CTI) Section was reopened. Due to the redirection of the staff’s efforts to inspect and make assessments of earthquake damaged buildings, and to process and expedite permits for earthquake related repair work, the CTI Section was temporarily closed. The CTI Section reviews and approves most office tenant improvement projects within 24 hours, responding to clients’ needs for a quicker permit approval process.”
“The program was impacted by the October 1989 earthquake, both by the urgency of post-earthquake damage assessment, and by the additional workload created by permits to repair buildings and structures damaged by the earthquake, in addition to the normal construction activity.
“The staff of the Code Enforcement Division were assigned to the special projects necessary to follow up on earthquake damaged buildings. Procedures were developed and implemented to inspect and enforce new City Ordinances regarding commercial energy conservation retrofit requirements in connection with permits and title changes of commercial properties. Special inspection procedures were revised and implemented for compliance with the 1990 San Francisco Building Code.”
“The Construction Inspection Program was divided to create a mechanical inspection program with Electrical and Plumbing Inspection Divisions to be assigned to the program effective July 1, 1990, under the supervision of an Assistant Superintendent.
“The Building Inspection Division and Code Enforcement Division will continue to be the Construction Inspection Program during Fiscal Year 1990-1991.”
“A more productive work environment will result in increased service to the public in the form of reduced permit processing time.”
“During the 1990-91 fiscal year, the Bureau processed 1,300 Earthquake Emergency Repair Permits. By expediting these permits, the Bureau made a solid contribution to the restoration of the earthquake-damaged buildings.
“The Bureau also required the securing of 350 earthquake-damaged buildings. The Bureau is still receiving 10 to 15 calls per week requesting the inspection of private buildings that could have earthquake damage.
“Although the earthquake of October 17, 1989 remained a challenge for the Bureau of Building Inspection, it has begun to approach the greater challenge of carrying out business operation reforms. These reforms will make the Bureau more accountable, accessible, and increase its credibility and productivity.
“These reforms are in the areas of communications, computerization, financial management and customer relations.
“When responding to the needs of the public, the Bureau intends to change its role from that of an adversary to that of a consultant. These reforms will take place over the next three years.”
“The Bureau intends to use computers as the basis for changing its business operations.”
“During the 1991-1992 fiscal year, the Bureau began the challenge of carrying out business operation reforms. These reforms were in the areas of customer relations, communications, computerization and financial management and will continue to take place over the next two years. The Bureau has become more accountable, more accessible and increased its credibility and productivity through these reforms.
“The Bureau has also changed its role from that of an adversary to that of a consultant when responding to the needs of the public.”
“The Construction Services Center went into operation on June 1, 1992. The CSC combines the building permit application intake, review and approval process by including the Department of City Planning, Fire Department, Bureau of Engineering and Department of Public Health personnel in the same location with the Central Permit Bureau, Plan Checking and Public Services functions of the Bureau.
“The consolidation of these resources into one work area is a major step toward the complete overhaul of the permit process, eventually leading to a “One Stop Permit Process.”
“The Bureau initiated two Request for Proposals during fiscal year 1991-92, one for a Building Database and the other a ‘Work Flow’ analysis. The Building Database will contain a complete history of all permits, plans, energy inspections, etc., that pertain to a property. The purpose of the ‘Work Flow’ analysis is to develop an image based Permit Tracking System. At the end of this development, the Bureau will see ‘Work Folders’ containing permit applications, plans and all associated documentation, flowing electronically in parallel to all appointed reviewers.”
“The Bureau’s workload volume increased over the past six fiscal years from 36,158 total permits issued in 1985 to 47,803 issued in 1991. During that same period, the Bureau’s staffing decreased from 175 employees to 167. The Bureau absorbed this workload increase with decreased staffing because of the important contributions made by the entire Bureau staff. These contributions brought increased productivity as well as improved quality.”
“THE BUREAU IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO PURSUE ITS GOALS OF:
“IN SUPPORT OF THESE GOALS, THE BUREAU WILL: