New Water Conservation Ordinances
Nearly 20 years ago, San Francisco developed a pioneering water conservation law that helped to decrease San Francisco’s water consumption. In 2009, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission updated the residential and commercial property water conservation ordinances to meet state and federal standards for plumbing fixtures, and to comply with rigorous new requirements for water conservation. With potential impacts from climate change in the long term and drought conditions in the immediate future, the SFPUC believes that updating its Water Conservation Ordinance is prudent policy for the city’s water security.
The Residential Water Conservation Ordinance amends San Francisco Housing Code Chapter 12a and requires compliance before the sale of a residential property and upon: condominium conversion; metering conversion; over $20,000 in improvements on 1- and 2-unit buildings; over $6,000 per unit in improvements on 3-plus-units; and over $1,000 per unit in improvements in residential hotels.
Water conservation inspections are required each time a property sells, regardless of past certification of compliance. Property owners must also meet energy conservation requirements, but energy inspections are required only once and not before every sale.
Plumbing fixtures must meet the following flow rates. Toilets must be 1.6 gallons per flush or less. Showerheads must be 2.5 gallons per minute or less.
Faucets must be 2.2 gallons per minute or less. Leaks must be repaired and detected using water meter registration for buildings with 1 or 2 units and either meter registration or visual inspection for buildings with 3 units or more.
The Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance updates San Francisco Building Code Chapter 13a by requiring commercial property owners to comply with federal standards for toilets, urinals, showerheads, faucets and leak repairs on or before January 1, 2017, or immediately upon improvements over $150,000, floor space expansion over 10% or improvements to rooms with plumbing fixtures.
For required inspections on the residential side, please call the Department
of Building Inspection Housing Inspection Services at 415-558-6220 or visit www.sfdbi.org. On the commercial side, please call the Department of Building Inspection Plumbing Inspection Division at 415-558-6570 or visit www.sfdbi.org.
For rebates and other water conservation assistance, contact the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission: 415-551-4730, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit conserve.sfwater.org. Beginning last month, Green Finance SF also allows property owners to borrow money for conservation retrofits and repay through their property tax bill. For information, visit www.greenfinancesf.org or contact 800-803-6930.
“Renter’s Relief” Returns
Last year, Supervisor Chris Daly was unable to overcome a mayoral veto to pass his so-called “renters relief” package at the Board of Supervisors. Now Daly has moved the package to the June 2010 ballot, where it remains largely the same as what he tried to push through at the board. The ballot measure disallows rent increases if they are more than one-third of the income of “hardship” tenants. Just as he did to quell opposition during the board battle, Daly limited those eligible for the “tenant hardship” provision to people who are unemployed, those whose wages have fallen by 20% or more over the past year, or those whose sole income is from government assistance. The tenant would also have to file a hardship petition at the San Francisco Rent Board in order to be covered by the proposed measure.
SFAA will be fighting hard against this measure and is calling on its membership to be a part of the campaign against this unnecessary and harmful legislation. It is important to stop this legislation at the ballot box, because it is unlikely to be challenged in court, according to SFAA Director Janan New. Right now, there are a lot of grey areas in the legislation. For example, how would students and roommates be treated under the legislation? The SFAA is attempting to make the language clearer so that the implications of this legislation are easier to understand. For more information on how you can help stop this confusing and unjust measure, please contact SFAA Government Affairs and Community Relations Manager Lisa Fricke at 415-255-2288 or email@example.com.
No Smoking in Apartment Common Areas
Supervisor Eric Mar’s new restrictions on smoking were recently passed unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Among other things, the new legislation disallows smoking in apartment common areas. “This has nothing to do with people smoking in the privacy of their own units,” clarifies SFAA Director Janan New. The new law also bans smoking in lines for movie theatres and concerts, though a requirement mandating that sport stadiums be 100% smoke-free was dropped.
Also, bars in entirely commercial buildings that currently have designated semi-enclosed smoking rooms will be allowed to keep them, though the creation of new smoking rooms will not be permitted. But, such already-existing rooms in bars built below housing may not be permitted under the new law.
San Francisco Approves $150 Million for Green Financing
Property owners in San Francisco now have the opportunity to finance renewable energy, energy efficiency and water conservation projects through $150 million in bonds provided by the city and paid back by owners through a special assessment on their property taxes. Property owners will be able to apply for funds beginning this month through the city’s new Property Assessed Clean Energy Program. The PACE program began in Berkeley and has expanded to 17 states across the country over the last 18 months, but San Francisco’s newly launched program is the largest.
Studies have shown that the primary barrier preventing property owners from making green improvements to their properties are the large up-front costs. The PACE program is designed to remove that barrier by attaching the funds for the improvements to the property taxes on the building, which are then repaid over 20 years. This additional assessment will stick with the property, not the owner, over the lifetime of the loan.