How San Francisco Created its ‘Permits in My Neighborhood’ Tool

Image: Sf-planning.org Screengrab

The Neighborhood Notification Act directed the San Francisco 311 Customer Service Center to develop the city’s first centralized permit notification system and tool to inform citizens of major development projects happening in their neighborhood.

Editor’s Note: Updated April 19, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – At a meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced the Neighborhood Notification Act to create the city’s first digital centralized permit notification system to proactively alert residents through email and other electronic means about significant projects and permitting decisions that may impact their neighborhood. The Neighborhood Notification Act directed the San Francisco 311 Customer Service Center to develop the city’s first centralized notification system.

In the technology capitol of the world, San Francisco residents should have advance access to significant decisions or projects that may impact their neighborhood,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell. “The neighborhood notification system I am creating will be a one-stop shop online for any city resident who wants to be more informed about their neighborhood – from the development project next-door, to whether their regular muni stop is being moved to a different location.”

Supervisor Farrell said he had consistently heard from constituents inside and outside of his district inquiring about how they can be better notified regarding significant decisions and projects that are happening in their neighborhood. City residents and visitors had to call 311 to request more information about a specific decision or project, or contact the respective city department responsible for that decision or project. Additionally, many of the City’s notices are only available to access in-person, or through standard mail.

The centralized permit notification system is in addition to, rather than in place of, other city official noticing requirements to ensure that city residents who do not have access to email or the Internet still receive city notices in-person, or through standard mail. The centralized notification system covers significant projects and permitting decisions in the areas of:

  • Construction and infrastructure repair work
  • Public health and safety services and facilities
  • Environment
  • Transportation
“With the creation of our neighborhood notification system, we will bring access to San Francisco’s most important decisions and projects into the 21st century,” said Farrell prior to the tool’s launch. “We will also save significant city resources over time by allowing residents to be notified through electronic means, and by allowing them to opt-out of receiving traditional standard mail notices.”
The centralized notification system was created in two-phases. The first phase of the system created the website where members of the public can find information on xity projects and permitting decisions in each district. The second phase of the system created a mechanism for the city to send, by e-mail or other electronic means and on a periodic basis, information regarding significant projects and permitting decisions from the website to members of the public who proactively sign up for the service.

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