Permits & Zoning Staff

Current Planning header graphic

What is Current Planning?

Planners in the Current Planning division help shape the physical development of the city. They are responsible for reviewing building permit and land use entitlement applications for compliance with the San Francisco Planning CodeSan Francisco's General Plan, Zoning regulations, and relevant design guidelines. Also, Current Planning staff process all Neighborhood Notifications for changes of use and residential expansions.

Current Planning Teams

The division includes planners that work on one or more of the following teams:

  • Planning Information Center (PIC) Team
    Planners are available to assist you in understanding the San Francisco Planning Code and the Permit process. Visit, call, or email us—we're here to help! View Team Members
  • Planning Quadrant Team
    The City is divided into four geographic quadrants for Planning purposes. View Team Members
  • Historic Preservation Team
    Historic Preservation is a strategy for conserving significant elements of the built environment in order to maintain a tangible physical connection to the past. View Team Members
  • Code Enforcement Team
    Staff from this team operate programs that ensure public compliance with the San Francisco Planning Code and other state construction codes. Additionally, they respond to customer complaints pertaining to Code and land use violations. View Team Members
  • Residential Design Team (RDT)
    This team is an internally staffed group of planners representing each of the quadrants, Historic Preservation, and PIC. They are well-versed in the Residential Design Guidelines and help by providing consistent design reviews for Building Permit Applications.

What are Quadrants?

The City is divided into four geographic quadrants—Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast—each monitored by a team of planners. Each team reviews permits and land use entitlements within that specified geographic quadrant.

San Francisco Current Planning Quadrants Map
Current Planning Quadrants Map
  • The Northwest Quadrant contains Supervisorial Districts 1, 2, and 5.
  • The Northeast Quadrant contains Supervisorial District 3 & a portion of District 6.
  • The Southwest Quadrant contains Supervisorial Districts 4, 7, 8, and 11.
  • The Southeast Quadrant contains Supervisorial Districts 6, 9, and 10.

Dividing the City geographically in this manner gives each planner the ability to become familiar with relevant neighborhood-specific design guidelines and neighborhood organizations. Planners from both Code Enforcement and Historic Preservation are also assigned a quadrant. Although Current Planners primarily work on permits and land use entitlements, participation in Long-Range Planning efforts is not uncommon considering their expertise in certain geographic areas and Planning Code compliance.

Application Review

Current Planning is responsible for processing both building permit applications and land use entitlements.

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How-To Guides.

Land Use Entitlements Applications include such applications as Conditional Use Authorizations and Variances. The majority of land use entitlement applications require an intake appointment with a Current Planner, which can be scheduled when the application packet is complete by contacting the Planning Information Center (PIC). Determining whether or not you need a land use entitlement is dependent upon the zoning designation of the subject property (see Find My Zoning). The majority of land use entitlements require a process called Neighborhood Notification as well as a public hearing before either the Zoning Administrator or the Planning Commission. For more information regarding the permitting process, go to our useful Permits & Zoning section. 

The Department of Building Inspection (DBI) is the lead agency for Building Permit Applications. However, in addition to DBI, many City Departments review applications. The Planning Department reviews building permit applications for compliance with relevant City Codes and guidelines. At the PIC, planners may approve building permits over-the-counter that are minor in scope. Building Permit Applications which are larger in scale or scope often require Neighborhood Notification and additional review time to process. These applications are routed to one of the four Quadrants and assigned to a Current Planner.

For more information on the application review process for different types of projects, refer to the Permit How-To Guides.

Design Review

Design review is an integral step in the permit review process. There can be several different types of design guidelines that Current Planners apply to a development project. The most commonly used design guidelines are the Planning Department's Residential Design Guidelines. These guidelines are used by planners during the review of residential Building Permit Applications. For building expansions, which require Neighborhood Notification, Current Planners consult the Residential Design Team (RDT), an internally staffed group of planners representing each of the quadrants, Historic Preservation, and PIC. The RDT is well versed in the Residential Design Guidelines and helps by providing a consistent review process.

Whereas Long-Range Planning (also known as Citywide Policy Planning) is tasked with developing area plans complete with new zoning designations and design guidelines, Current Planning is responsible for implementing these design criteria. Certain area plans, such as the Market Octavia Area Plan have a specific set of design guidelines. In addition, certain neighborhoods may independently develop their own design guidelines which are not enforced by the Planning Department but are used for reference.