Appeal Process

appeal process

Appeal Process Resources

How to File an Appeal

Be On Time. The time limits for filing appeals are strictly enforced.

  • Most appeals must be filed within 15 calendar days from the date the decision being appealed is issued.

  • Appeals of variance decisions issued by the Zoning Administrator must be filed within 10 calendar days from the date of the variance decision letter.

  • Appeals relating to entertainment permits, extended hours premises and loudspeaker permits issued by the Entertainment Commission, and permit decisions made pursuant to Planning Code Section 343 (Central SOMA Housing Sustainability District)  must be filed within 10 calendar days of the determination.

  • Appeals of building permits issued for certain types of Accessory Dwelling Units (issued pursuant to Planning Code Section 207c6)) must be filed within 10 calendar days of the permit decision.

  • Other appeal periods may apply and you are strongly advised to contact the Board office for more information about your particular appeal.

In very limited circumstances, the Board will hear appeals after the filing deadline has passed. Contact the Board offices to learn more.

Make an Appointment. Appeals must be filed by email or telephone. Appointments are recommended if you want to file by telephone.  To make an appointment, please call 415-575-6880. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

An appellant may have someone else (an agent or attorney) file an Appeal for them. An agent or attorney must provide the Board with written authorization from the appellant allowing the agent or attorney to file the appeal in the appellant’s name.

What to Provide for your appeal

  • A copy of the departmental action being appealed, such as the permit, variance decision, etc.

  • If you are appealing the ISSUANCE of a building permit, you MUST bring a copy of the original permit application which can be obtained from DBI (1660 Mission Street, 4th Floor (Records Department))
  • If you are appealing the DENIAL/DISAPPROVAL of a building permit, you MUST bring in a copy of the Denial/Disapproval Letter issued by DBI.
  • A check or cash to pay the filing fee. The Board does not accept credit cards. Click here for the Board’s fee schedule. All fees are non-refundable, whether or not the appeal is successful or withdrawn prior to a Board hearing.

  • A one-page double-spaced statement in 12 point font explaining the reasons for the appeal may be submitted at the time the appeal is filed. No exhibits are allowed. This is optional. If you wish to bring a statement to your appointment, Click Here for the form.

  • An authorization (agency) letter, if you are filing the appeal for someone else.

Once an Appeal is Filed

When an appeal is filed, Board staff will set a hearing date and briefing schedule. The determination holder(s) or permit holder(s) will be informed of the appeal and in most cases, the determination or permit that has been appealed will be suspended. The parties are given time to prepare and submit briefs (written statements) arguing their position on the appeal for the Board’s consideration. Exhibits may be submitted as well.

See the Board’s Instructions for Parties to learn about the Board’s briefing requirements, and for other important information.  Note:  Briefs should only be submitted electronically to boardofappeals@sfgov.org and the other parties.  Hard copies are not required to be submitted to the Board Office at this time.

Board members will conduct a public hearing on the appeal, listening to arguments and testimony from the appellant(s), permit holder(s), department representative(s), and from interested neighbors and other members of the public. The Board then votes to either uphold the underlying departmental determination, impose conditions on the determination, or overrule the determination. The Board may also continue a hearing to a later date if more information or time for settlement discussions is needed.

How to File a Rehearing Request

If a party to an appeal is dissatisfied with the Board’s decision, a Rehearing Request may be filed. Such requests must be filed within 10 calendar days from the date of the Board's decision and may be filed only by the parties to an appeal. If the Rehearing Request period ends on a weekend or City holiday, the last day to file the request is the next business day. Only one Rehearing Request may be filed per appeal.

A Rehearing Request may not be filed for a decision regarding a permit issued for an Accessory Dwelling Unit under Planning Code section 207(c)(6).

Prepare a Written Statement

When requesting a rehearing, a statement must be submitted to the Board explaining why the appeal should be reheard. This statement can be up to six (6) double-spaced pages in length, with unlimited exhibits, and must conform to the briefing requirements in the Rules. The other party may submit a response to the Rehearing Request no later than ten (10) days from the date the request was filed. This response may be up to six (6) double-spaced pages in length with unlimited exhibits and must conform to the briefing requirements in the Rules. Due to Covid-19 all brifing submission should be sent via email to this Board office and to the other party(s). Email: boardofappeals@sfgov.org

To file a Rehearing Request due to Covid-19 all requests are taken by email submissions, please email boardofappeals@sfgov.org

Pay the Fee

A non-refundable fee of $150 is required to file a rehearing request. The fee may be paid by check and mailed to the Board of Appeals 1650 Mission Street, Suite 304 SF, CA 94103. Checks should be made payable to the Board of Appeals. Please note that the appeal fee may be waived if the filing party meets certain indigency standards and submits an affidavit of indigency.  Please contact the Board Office at (415) 575-6880 for more information.

What to Expect at the Hearing

The Board will take three (3) minutes of testimony from the appellant, the determination holder and from a representative of the department that issued the determination. Members of the public who are unaffiliated with either party are then given up to three minutes each to speak. The Board will then discuss the matter and take a vote. This decision is final.

Standard of Review

Four out of five votes are needed to grant a Rehearing Request. The Board may grant a rehearing request only upon a showing by the requestor that extraordinary circumstances exist and a rehearing is needed to prevent manifest injustice, or new or different facts or circumstances have arisen that if known at the time of the original hearing could have affected the outcome. The written request should state: the nature and character of the new facts or circumstances; the names of the witnesses.

Additional Appeal Process Information Links:

Appeal Process Overview: English | Spanish | Chinese | Filipino

Rules of the Board of Appeals

Instructions for Parties

Appeals of DBI Penalties

Fee Schedule