Street furnishings provide important amenities for pedestrians by adding functionality and vitality to the pedestrian realm. They announce that pedestrians are welcome and that the street is a comfortable place to be. These amenities provide a functional service to the pedestrian and provide visual detail and interest.
Pedestrian amenities should be considered a requisite public expenditure just as other necessary elements of the street, such as traffic signals and signage. Improved street vitality has been shown to improve public safety and comfort, health of local businesses, local real estate value, and transportation habits.
Individual Street Furniture Elements
The links below contain permitting process information, design guidelines and maintenance requirements for individual street furniture elements:
- Benches and Seating
- Bicycle Racks
- Bike Corrals (On-Street Bicycle Parking)
- Community Kiosks
- News Racks
- Public art
- Public Toilets
- Transit Shelters
The permitting process for street furniture will vary depending on the type of street furniture plan to install and the scale of your project. Bike racks, bike corrals, and transit shelters are processed through the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA). Generally, all of other types of street furniture are permitted through the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW).
For complex projects involving various streetscape elements, DPW will often streamline the permit process by combining multiple elements under one permit.
See individual street furniture pages for specific information
See Permit Process for more information
Official Codes & Documents
- Better Streets Plan (street design guidelines)
Appropriate Streetscape Elements by Sidewalk Zone
|Appropriate Elements (General)
|Merchandise displays, cafe seating, furnishings aligned with building frontage, planting along building frontage
|Special paving, sub-surface utilities
|Trees and plantings, seating, bicycle racks, kiosks, cafe seating, public art, utility boxes and vaults, other site furnishings
|Street lights, parking meters, signage poles, bollards, sub-surface utilities, non-continuous tree basins
|Planting and seating areas in flexible parking zones or on curb extensions, trees in islands
Site furnishings should be prioritized on:
- Streets with a large amount of pedestrian activity
- Streets where pedestrians may linger and enjoy the public realm, such as downtown, commercial, mixed-use, or special streets
- Streets with a recreational role such as parkways, park edge streets, and boulevards
Other streets should include site furnishings at corners and busier blocks, or where warranted by adjacent land use and pedestrian activity. Site furnishings should be clustered at Transit Stops.
On residential streets, alleys and on curb extensions on any street, clusters of pedestrian amenities can create attractive and inviting public spaces where neighborhood residents or patrons of local businesses can sit and rest, play, eat, or enjoy people watching.
Specific location guidelines for each element are detailed by element on individual street furniture pages.
Site furnishings should be considered secondary to street trees and lighting. Street tree and lighting placement should define the major rhythm of design elements along the street; site furnishings should be placed in relation to trees and lighting after the best locations for these elements have already been located.
In downtown, site furnishings should follow the Downtown Streetscape Plan.
In addition to the specific guidelines for each element, site furniture should conform to these minimum requirements for sidewalk element placements, unless otherwise noted. Site furnishings should be placed in the furnishings zone not less than:
- 18 inches from the outside edge of the curb;
- 2 feet from any driveway or wheelchair ramp and 4 feet at the landings of the ramp;
- 5 feet from any fire hydrant and 2 feet from a stand pipe; and
- 4 feet from any MUNI transit shelter, except as noted in Transit Stops.
Placement of site furnishings should consider car overhangs and door swings. When placed near the curb, furnishings should be located at the ends of the on-street parking stalls rather than at the center.
Street designs should reduce streetscape clutter by consolidating and reducing the size of miscellaneous site furnishings such as utility poles, call boxes, mail boxes, etc. as much as possible.
Site furnishings may also be placed within curb extensions where sidewalk widths are extended into the parking lane.
All site furnishings must be accessible per Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and City regulations, including the following:
- Site furnishings must maintain the minimum 4 foot ADA required clear accessible route, and should leave the minimum through widths. See Sidewalk Widths.
- Objects mounted on walls or posts with leading edges above the standard sweep of canes (27 inches) and below the standard head room clearance (80 inches) should be limited to a 4 inch maximum protrusion.
- No sidewalk element may interfere with pedestrian access to the entrance of any building; this includes the path of travel and disabled access requirements of ADA and Title 24. This includes all paths of travel or exiting.
- Wherever possible, site furnishings should be of a contrasting color to the sidewalk so as to aid pedestrians with visual impairments.
- Site furnishings should leave a minimum 8 feet of clearance adjacent to accessible parking and passenger loading zones.
Environmentally responsible material choices
Site furnishings should strive to use sustainable materials, including:
- Materials with recycled content: the sum of postconsumer recycled content plus one-half of the pre-consumer content constitutes at least 20% (based on cost) of the total value of the materials in the project.
- Regionally-harvested materials: materials or products that have been extracted, harvested or recovered, as well as manufactured, within 500 miles of the project site for a minimum of 20% (based on cost) of the total materials value.
- Rapidly renewable materials: materials and products made from plants that are typically harvested within a ten-year cycle or shorter for 2.5% of the total value of all materials and products used in the project, based on cost.
- Certified wood: use a minimum of 50% of Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) certified wood-based materials for wood components. The City is currently working on a ‘greening checklist’ for streetscape projects that would institutionalize these standards.
With some exceptions, fronting property owners are responsible for the on-going maintenance and upkeep of sidewalk paving as well as all sidewalk elements directly fronting their property, such as trees, landscaping, and streetscape furnishings. Generally, the City is responsible for maintaining roadway paving and other features in the roadway, such as medians.
Typically, if you initiate street or sidewalk improvements, you will be responsible for maintenance of those features. Specific requirements will be described in your permit.