Obtaining Urban Agriculture Zoning Permits
To obtain an urban agriculture permit (Neighborhood Agriculture or Large-Scale Urban Agriculture) new or existing gardens and farms need to apply for a change of use permit. The Planning Department offers a general overview of the permitting process.
To get a Neighborhood Urban Agriculture Permit:
1. Create a schematic drawing of your proposed garden that includes the boundaries of the site, indicates where you intend to place any fencing, toolsheds (or other structures), compost, and planned points of sale (if any), and is roughly drawn to scale.
2. Download and fill out the Public Utilities Commission’s Urban Agriculture Project Information Sheet. This form ensures that your project will comply with San Francisco’s Water Efficient Irrigation Ordinance.
3. Go to the Department of Building Inspection & Planning Information Center at 1660 Mission Street, 1st floor.
4. Speak with the intake receptionist about starting the change of use permit process for urban agriculture. The application will begin with Building Form 3/8.
5. Pick up “Building Form 3/8."
a. In section 18 of the form, in the description of work, include the following: “Change of use to urban agriculture (Note: specify whether your project fits under “Neighborhood Agriculture or Large-Scale Urban Agriculture”) per SF Building Code 106A.1.12 change of use requirement.”
b. For filling in the rest of the required information, consult with someone at the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) or Planning Department-- both of which have desks at the Planning Information Center on the 1st floor.
6. Bring Building Form 3/8 to the desk of the Department of Building Inspection.
7. After submitting this form to DBI, bring your application to planners at the Planning Information Center (PIC), which is a separate desk also on the 1st floor.
8. The PIC will want to know the proposed location, see your schematic drawing, and may have other questions about your proposed garden.
9. After getting approved by the Planning Department, take your application to the 5th floor and submit it to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
10. After your project has received approval from the Department of Building Inspection, the Planning Department, and the Public Utilities Commission, take your paperwork to the Central Permit Bureau (still in the same building) to pay the change of use permit fee (approximately $350) and obtain the permit itself.
11. Once you have your change of use permit -- you can start building your garden!
All Large-Scale Urban Agriculture permit are obtained through the Conditional-Use permit process.
These types of gardens and farms are permitted, by right, in Commercial, Industrial and Production, Distribution, and Repair (PDR) districts. In all other zoning districts of the city, gardens and farms of this size are only permitted with Conditional Use Authorization from the Planning Commission -- which involves a lengthier permit process, a public hearing, and higher fees. To determine the zoning district for your site, use the San Francisco Property Information Map or the official zoning map.
Additional Information for Obtaining Urban Agriculture Zoning Permits
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.