Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How to get a street accepted by the city

This document was forwarded to Ed P. by Barbara Moy at DPW:


Background on Acceptance of Streets and Roadway Structures

There are a variety of roadway structures in the City’s right-of-way, such as stairways and retaining walls, as well as alleys and cul-de-sacs. Most of these roadway structures were built by the City and therefore are maintained by the City. These structures are listed in the Department of Public Works (DPW) database (RSIS). However, there are other roadway structures that were built by private individuals, developers, or neighborhood associations. These roadway structures are considered private and are not maintained by DPW.

Private Street: A private street is a privately owned and maintained access path provided for by a tract, easement, or other legal means, typically serving three or more potential dwelling units. Private streets are not under DPW’s regulatory jurisdiction.
Public Street: A public street is a publicly owned access path that includes the roadway and all other improvements within the right-of-way. Public streets are under DPW’s regulatory jurisdiction. A public street can be either an Accepted Street or an Unaccepted Street.
Accepted Street: Accepted Streets are public streets that the City is responsible for maintaining (e.g., street sweeping, pothole repair, resurfacing). However, the property owner remains responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of his/her property.
Unaccepted Street: Unaccepted Streets do not meet the City’s engineering design standards for City streets and are not maintained by the City.



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is my street accepted for maintenance by the City?
A: You can find out by calling DPW Bureau of Street Use and Mapping at (415) 554-5810.

Q: Who is responsible for maintaining an unaccepted street?
A: Under the Public Works Code Article 90 and State law, the property owner is responsible for maintaining the portion of the unaccepted street in front of his/her property up to the center of the street. State law prohibits the City from using gas tax money on unaccepted streets. In addition, DPW is prohibited from using any general fund money on unaccepted streets.

Q: How does a street become an accepted street?
A: In order for a public street to become an accepted street, an Ordinance must be passed by the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor. The Ordinance to accept a specific street would be based on the recommendation of the DPW Director, and certification by the City Engineer that confirms the street meets the City’s engineering design standards.

Q: What are the City’s engineering design standards?
A: Please see the following pages.




Procedure and Standards for Acceptance of Stairways and Retaining Walls

The original developers or adjacent property owners constructed the stairway or retaining wall at their own expense and then requested the City Engineer to certify it for City maintenance. They must submit an individual request for each structure in writing. The City will evaluate the structure and determine the acceptance through the following steps:

1. To see if a particular street structure is City-owned or not, please call 558-4000 (DPW Bureau of Engineering).

2. If there is no documentation that the structure was accepted by the City, the structure may be accepted if the following requirements are met:

● The structure is located in the public right-of-way; and

● The stairway and/or retaining wall were constructed in accordance with, but not limited to, the latest edition of the San Francisco Building Code, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design; and

● The structure is in good condition with a condition assessment score of 70 or above (100 being a perfect score). If the structure is not in good condition (has a condition assessment score of 69 or below), the current owner will need to make the necessary repairs to bring the condition of the structure to a score to 90 or above before the City will consider accepting the structure for maintenance.


3. If the structure meets all requirements listed in Item 2 above, the City Engineer prepares a DPW order for review and approval by the Director of Public Works. Next, the Director of Public Works transmits legislation to the Board of Supervisors. Upon review of the ordinance which lists each structure that has been recommended for acceptance, the Board of Supervisors approves the list of structures for maintenance by the Department of Public Works.



Procedure for Acceptance of Streets, Alleys and Cul-de-sacs

1. Write a letter to the Director of Public Works.
2. DPW staff will investigate if the street meets the City’s engineering design standards.
3. The City Engineer may certify that the street meets City standards and the DPW Director will recommend that the Board of Supervisors pass an Ordinance to accept the street.
4. If the street does not meet City standards, a letter summarizing the deficiencies will be sent back to you.
5. If you want to pursue the acceptance of your street, you will have to correct any deficiencies.




Alternative financing available for property owners to construct improvements to bring streets, stairways, and retaining walls to city standards for city acceptance of future maintenance:

1. Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 allows any county, city, special district, school district or joint powers authority to establish a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District (CFD) which allows for financing of public improvements and services. The services and improvements that Mello-Roos CFDs can finance include streets and structures within the streetscape. The improvements directly impact the quality of life for properties within the CFD.
Formation of a CFD requires a two-thirds majority vote of residents living within the proposed boundaries. Once approved, a Special Tax Lien is placed against each property within the CFD. Property owners then pay this tax each year for up to 25 years.
2. Community Improvement Districts: A CID is formed when property owners in a proposed district voluntarily agree to a special assessment in order to finance services and capital improvements over and above those already provided by the City. CBDs are a proven strategy to sustain commercial corridor improvement activities. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) allow local business owners to come together to conduct a range of activities that benefit their neighborhoods: Street maintenance and security, marketing and promotion, economic development, retail recruitment, and developing parking facilities and public amenities.

The majority of property owners must agree to an annual assessment for capital or maintenance work to be conducted by either the City (above existing commitments) or through contractors hired by the District. The assessment is then placed on the property’s tax rolls and distributed according to the District’s governing policies.

3. Up Front Assessment: Fronting property owners agree to assess themselves for the cost to improve facilities to City standards for City acceptance of future maintenance. The major distinction between the first two funding strategies is the ongoing nature of the CID. Presently, CIDs have been limited to commercial area.



City Standards Applicable to Alleys that are less than 40-ft wide, Cul-de-Sacs or Dead-End Streets

The City’s engineering design standards are listed in the Subdivision Regulations (DPW Order No. 124,677 – approved on January 6, 1982). The major requirements are listed below:

• Alleys (less than 40 feet wide) shall have a maximum paved width of 25 feet.
• Cul-de-sacs (dead-end streets) shall not be longer than 600 feet and shall terminate in a paved circular turn-around with a minimum diameter of 60 feet.
• Curbs are required on both sides of paved roadways, and along cul-de-sacs.
• A sidewalk of at least 4 feet in width is required on both sides. An alley or cul-de-sac with a sidewalk on only one side may be allowed only by a variance to these regulations.
• The roadway pavement shall consist of at least 2 inches of asphalt concrete over 8 inches of concrete base.
• Street grades shall be less than 17%, except for under unusual conditions.
• Streets shall be graded to provide a continuous downhill path for surface drainage.
• For streets with grades less than 1%, concrete gutters are required. The minimum width required is 2 feet.
• Streets shall have necessary improvements such as catch basins, manholes, sewers, side sewers, culverts, storm drains, sanitary sewers, etc.; water supply for fire protection, and alarm facilities as approved by the Fire Department; and street lighting facilities as approved by the Public Utilities Commission Bureau of Light, Heat and Power.



City Standards Applicable to Main Thoroughfares that are wider than 80-ft (4 traffic lanes) Secondary Streets that are 50-ft and wider (2 traffic lanes)

The City’s engineering design standards are listed in the Subdivision Regulations (DPW Order No. 124,677 – approved on January 6, 1982). The major requirements are listed below:

• Main thoroughfares shall have a minimum paved width of 60-ft.
• Secondary streets shall have a minimum paved width of 34-ft.
• Curbs are required on both sides of the paved roadway.
• A sidewalk, of at least 4-ft in width, is required on both sides of the street.
• Roadway pavement section shall consist of at least 2 inches of asphalt concrete over 8 inches of concrete base.
• Street grades shall be less than 17%, except under unusual conditions.
• Streets shall be graded to provide a continuous downhill path for surface drainage.
• For streets with grades less than 1%, a minimum 2-foot wide concrete gutter is required.
• Streets shall have necessary improvements such as catch basins, manholes, sewers, side sewers, culverts, storm drains, sanitary sewers, etc.; water supplies for fire protection and alarm facilities as approved by the Fire Department; and street lighting facilities as approved by the Public Utilities Commission, Bureau of Light, Heat and Power.



City Standards Applicable to Minor Streets that are 40 to 50-ft wide (1 traffic lane in each direction)

The City’s engineering design standards are listed in the Subdivision Regulations (DPW Order No.
124,677 – approved on January 6, 1982).

The major requirements are listed below:
• Minor streets shall have a minimum paved width of 26 feet.
• Curbs are required on both sides of the paved roadway.
• A sidewalk, of at least 4 feet in width, is required on both sides of the street.
• Roadway pavement section shall consist of at least 2 inches of asphalt concrete over 8
inches of concrete base.
• Street grades shall be less than 17%, except under unusual conditions.
• Streets shall be graded to provide a continuous downhill path for surface drainage.
• For streets with grades less than 1%, a minimum 2-foot wide concrete gutter is required.
• Streets shall have necessary improvements such as catch basins, manholes, sewers, side sewers,
culverts, storm drains, sanitary sewers, etc.; water supplies for fire protection and alarm facilities as approved by the Fire Department; and street lighting facilities as approved by the Public Utilities Commission, Bureau of Light, Heat and Power.



Reference Codes, Ordinances & Regulations Regarding Street Maintenance

• California Streets & Highways Code Section 1806
• California Professional Engineers Act (California Business and Professions Code Sections 6700 et seq.)
• California Subdivision Map Act Government Code Title 7, Division 2, commencing with Section 66410
• San Francisco Public Works Code Sections 2.4.4(t), 706, 937, 940, 941, and Article 9
• San Francisco Administrative Code Section 1.52 and Chapter 31
• San Francisco Subdivision Code Section 1311
• San Francisco General Plan’s Transportation Element, Urban Design Element and applicable Area Plan(s)
• San Francisco Traffic Code
• San Francisco Ordinance 163-75 and amendments to it
• San Francisco Ordinance 2250
• DPW Subdivision Regulations, adopted by as Public Works Order 124,677, January 6, 1982

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