Managing Pests on City Properties
Topics on this page:
- IPM Compliance Checklist
- Reduced Risk Pesticide List
- Lease and contract language
- Safe disposal
- Highlights of the SF Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program
- Pesticide use trends
- Research and reports
- Meetings and public information
- Our partners
San Francisco city staff have been national leaders in integrated pest management (IPM) since the City passed its Integrated Pest Management Ordinance in 1996. The Ordinance governs the way pests are managed on all City properties, but does not apply to private property. Specifically, the law applies to any City staff or contractors managing unwanted insects, rodents, birds, weeds, or other organisms for buildings & landscapes that are:
- Owned by the City, even if in other counties, or
- Leased from the City (with leases signed after 1996), such as golf courses or vendors at SF Airport.
The IPM ordinance contains requirements for:
- How integrated pest management (IPM) is implemented
- Limitations on pesticide products - the SF Reduced Risk Pesticide List
- Exemptions to the Reduced Risk Pesticide List
- Posting and notification for pesticide treatments
- Recordkeeping and data requirements
For simplicity's sake, we have assembled a printable Compliance Checklist that also includes the latest version of the Reduced Risk Pesticide List. Some key links are:
IPM technical resources: Information on specific pests and management techniques
List of departmental IPM coordinators for the City & County of San Francisco
Signs for posting: Posting is required 3 days before to 4 days after pesticide spraying
Reporting pesticide use data (password required)
Request exemptions for pesticides not listed on the Reduced Risk Pesticide List (City IPM staff only)
Sign up for emails to be notified of upcoming IPM TAC meetings or other events
The Reduced Risk Pesticide List is maintained and updated annually by San Francisco's IPM Program, which includes the Department of the Environment and other City department stakeholders. These pesticide products may only be used as a last resort after other, non-chemical management options have been exhausted, and in keeping with limitations listed. The List is only appropriate for City staff or contractors managing pests on City property. It is not relevant to US Green Building Council LEED requirements, which are described elsewhere.
Each product on the list has been::
1. Screened using the SF Pesticide Hazard Screening Protocol
2. Reviewed by the SF IPM Technical Advisory Committee (IPM TAC). The IPM TAC is convened by the Department of the Environment and is composed of City IPM Coordinators, contractors, IPM specialists from non-City agencies, and other interested parties. Each year, the TAC considers product hazards, potential for exposure, data gaps, and existence of safer alternatives before placing products on the List
3. Presented at a public hearing
4. Approved by the Commission on the Environment
The SF Reduced-Risk Pesticide List is not appropriate for non-City-owned properties or other agencies because it:
- Includes products available only to professionals
- Includes products that are more hazardous than required for household use
- Is tailored to the special needs of San Francisco facilities and local microclimates
Leases: Because all properties leased from the City fall within the requirements of the IPM Ordinance, the ordinance must be referenced in any new lease agreements. Properties leased by the City should also include such language when possible. Here is some sample language:
Leasee, and any pest management contractors operating on the leased property, shall comply with all requirements of San Francisco's Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Ordinance (Chapter 3, San Francisco Environment Code) These requirements include, but are not limited to: Using pesticides as a last resort, using only pesticides on the current SF Reduced Risk Pesticide List, posting notifications of all pesticide applications three days before treatment, leaving these postings for at least four days after treatment, and reporting all pesticide use by staff or contractors. Details can be found at the San Francisco Department of the Environment website, http://sfenvironment.org/article/pest-management/managing-pests-on-city-....
Service contracts: City departments who contract for landscape rennovations or similar services should include similar language in the contracts to ensure that activities are conducted according to the law's requirements.
City departments who need to safely dispose of pesticide products - or other hazardous waste - can schedule pickups by the Department of Public Health.
The 1996 San Francisco IPM Ordinance (revised in 2011) was the first ordinance of its kind in the nation, and laid the groundwork for development of groundbreaking San Francisco's Precautionary Principle Ordinance. The IPM Ordinance is unique in its requirement that pest managers on City properties use pesticides only as a last resort, restrict all pesticide use to an approved list of products (the Reduced Risk Pesticide List), provide posting of all pesticide treatments, and keep data on pesticide use. The program has been emulated by dozens of public agencies nationwide, and received the 2006 National IPM Achievement Award at the National IPM Symposium in St. Louis, MO. San Francisco's approach to screening pesticides has now been adopted by the US Green Building Council as part of its LEED for Existing Buildings program.
The City does not have the legal authority to regulate pesticide use on private properties. The enforcement of state and federal pesticide laws is the responsibility of the California Agricultural Commissioners offices.
- Decreased pesticide use by about 80% since the start of the program.
- Decreased the use of glyphosate - the active ingredient in Roundup - by 88% since the program began.
- Prohibited pre-emergent herbicides (with the exception of airport runways, which are subject to FAA regulations).
- One of the first cities to ban the use of single-feed rodenticides (2006), due to data on adverse impacts to predatory birds. This ban followed a community process incorporating nonprofits and the SF Department of Public Health.
- Banned the use of gopher baits as a precautionary measure (2009), due to the potential for adverse impacts on other wildlife.
Model IPM plans created by San Francisco departments or other agencies
Before the 2010 revision of the IPM Ordinance, SF Environment was required to submit full annual reports on the IPM Program. Beginning in 2010, SF Environment will post summaries of pesticide use trends on City properties on its website.
Exemptions granted - City departments must request special exemptions to use pesticides that are not on the current Reduced Risk Pesticide List. Exemptions that are approved are automatically posted on this page.
Reports of any federal or state pesticide violations - including unsafe application or use in violation of the pesticide label - should be directed to the SF Agricultural Commissioners Office, housed at the Department of Public Health's Pesticide Use Enforcement Program at (415)252-3862.
Complaints, comments, or concerns about pesticide use or pest problems on City properties can be registered directly with the relevant City department, or can be entered in our list. We will direct the issue to the appropriate City agency.
Meetings: Watch this space for announcements of upcoming meetings and conferences.
- The SF IPM Program receives funding from SF Recreation and Parks, SF Department of Public Health, SF Department of Public Works, SF Public Utilities Commission, SF Municipal Transportation Agency, SF Port, and SF International Airport.
- The City's IPM program frequently organizes workshops, conferences, and events with partners such as the City of Palo Alto, the County of Santa Clara, the Presidio Trust, and the National Park Service.
- San Francisco also works with the Urban Pesticide Pollution Prevention Project, a regional IPM network. The city's IPM staff sat on technical advisory committees for the EcoWise Certification program and the GreenPro certification program, both of which are IPM certifications for structural pest control businesses.
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.