San Francisco Restrictions on New Roof Decks

Currently, building owners and single-family home owners can apply for permits to add a roof deck atop their property which are typically easily approved “over-the-counter” – without the need for a review, or pre-application meetings, neighborhood notifications, or any public hearings.

But this may change soon change as the San Francisco’s Planning Department was recently instructed to develop a new set of official policies due to the rise of new deck-related challenges by people who have called for  “Discretionary Reviews” or DR’s.

The San Francisco’s Planning Department says new policies are needed…

“to strike a balance between allowing for the reasonable enhancement of outdoor open space on the roofs of low-density residential buildings, which will improve livability in a dense, urban setting, while protecting the quality of life for adjacent neighbors.”

The said department’s proposal for a “roof deck policy” will be presented to San Francisco’s Planning Commission for review next week, with these key notes below:

  1. Size: A total maximum deck area of no greater than 1/3 of the building’s roof area.
  2. Setbacks: A minimum 5-foot setback of deck guardrails from all building edges except the rear building wall.
  3. Access: Limited to an internalized staircase or roof hatch or one minimally sized stair penthouse for multi-unit buildings if required by Building Code.
  4. Appliances: Fixed cooking, fire pits, hot tubs, showers and other plumbed appliances would not be allowed.


Feedback from the San Francisco’s Planning Commission, and the public, will eventually dictate the terms and conditions of the new roof deck policy and restrictions. Let the games begin.


Source: SocketSite

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