When Zoning Permits Are Not Required

Urban Agriculture Activity Not Requiring a Permit

Generally speaking if you’re growing food for personal use and consumption, urban agriculture permits are not required. This is true of both home gardens and standard plot-based community gardens.

Additionally, permits are not necessary for home gardens that are considered “Accessory Use,” even if the produce is being grown to sell or share. To be considered “Accessory Use”:

- The garden is not the main use of the site. For example, a backyard home garden would be a secondary use of the site, which provides a main function of housing the occupants of the building.
- The total project area is less than ¼ of the total floor area of the building unit in Neighborhood Commercial and Residential zones.
- Further requirements are outlined in planning code Article 2, Use Districts, Section 204.1 for Accessory Uses For Dwellings In R Or NC Districts 

Note: Though these projects do not require permits, the following is required:

- They must follow urban agriculture physical and operational standards defined in the planning code (see below).
- Must comply with other city policies relating to animal keeping, built structures, soil hazard mitigations, and any other related activities and policies.

Additionally, these types of projects are encouraged to follow SF Public Utilities Commission recommendations to identify a water source and follow water efficient irrigation practices.


Photo: Tea Tönnov