San Francisco’s policies encourage a ‘complete streets’ approach to the design and management of public right-of-ways that considers the multiple roles that streets play.

San Francisco’s Transit-First Policy (San Francisco City Charter Section 16.102), initially adopted in 1973, and voted into the City Charter in 1999, states that the City should prioritize street improvements that enhance travel by public transit, by bicycle and on foot as an attractive alternative to travel by private automobile.

The City’s Better Streets Policy (San Francisco Administrative Code Section 98.1), adopted in 2006, states that streets are for all types of transportation, particularly walking and transit, and requires City agencies to coordinate the planning, design and use of public rights-of-way to carry out the vision for streets contained in the policy.

The Better Streets Plan, adopted by the city in December 2010, provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for the design of San Francisco’s pedestrian realm. The Plan seeks to balance the needs of all street users, with a particular focus on the pedestrian environment and how streets can be used as public space.

The Complete Streets Policy (Public Works Code Section 2.4.13) directs the City to include pedestrian, bicycle, and streetscape improvements as part of any planning or construction in the public right-of-way.

The City is also required to comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits for stormwater and wastewater management. One of the ways the City complies with these permits is through implementing low impact design based stormwater management (LID) which reduces pollution caused by stormwater runoff. See SFPUC Stormwater Design Guidelines page.

These policies provide strong direction to property owners, developers, communities, and City agencies to design streets that realize multiple benefits, use streets as centers of public life, and promote walking, bicycling and public transit over the needs of private automobiles.

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