Planning Department Overview
The mission of the San Francisco Planning Department, under the direction of the Planning Commission, is to shape the future of San Francisco and the region by generating an extraordinary vision for the General Plan; fostering exemplary design through planning controls; improving our surroundings through environmental analysis; preserving our unique heritage; encouraging a broad range of housing and a diverse job base; and enforcing the Planning Code.
In order to implement its mission, the San Francisco Planning Department is made up of the following divisions:
- The Director’s Office
- Commission Affairs
- Community Equity
- Current Planning
- Citywide Planning
- Environmental Planning
The Planning Commission is a seven-member body that makes decisions on a wide range of development projects and advises the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and City departments on San Francisco’s long-range goals, policies, and programs on issues related to land use, transportation, and neighborhood planning, and has the specific responsibility for the stewardship and maintenance of San Francisco’s General Plan. The Planning Department reports to the Planning Commission through the Planning Director.
Four members of the Commission are appointed by the Mayor, while the other three members are appointed by the President of the Board of Supervisors. They serve four-year terms.
Historic Preservation Commission
The Historic Preservation Commission is a seven-member body that advises the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and City departments on San Francisco’s historic preservation goals, policies and programs. The Commission is responsible for identifying and designating San Francisco landmarks and buildings in the City’s historic districts as well as providing oversight and making decisions on the identification and treatment of properties with historic, social or cultural value to San Francisco. The Commission also convenes the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) to evaluate complex design issues.
All members are nominated by the Mayor and approved by the Board of Supervisors; they serve four-year terms.
The Director’s Office is responsible for a range of executive functions, including policy analysis and decision-making, media relations, and inter-agency coordination on development strategy and projects.
The Administration Division provides the support and resources to meet the Department’s mission and goals. The division includes the Finance Office, where staff oversees all financial, accounting, and budget functions, ensures compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) through regular financial reporting, develops the annual work program and financial budget, and manages all aspects of professional services contracts and awarded grants; Human Resources, Operations, and the Office of Analysis and Information Systems (OASIS).
The Office of Commission Affairs serves as the liaison between the Planning Department and members of the Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission. Commission Affairs staff oversees Commission meeting agendas, maintains Commission reports and records, responds to Sunshine Ordinance public information requests, and drafts and maintains Rules and Regulations.
Planners in the Current Planning Division help maintain and enhance the physical development of the City. They are responsible for reviewing development applications for compliance with the San Francisco Planning Code, San Francisco’s General Plan, State Law, and relevant design guidelines. They also interpret and ensure compliance with the Planning Code, implement the historic preservation work program, and comprise the core staff at the Planning Information Center.
The Citywide Planning Division is responsible for long-range planning in San Francisco. Citywide planners develop policy, maintain and oversee compliance with the City’s General Plan, prepare and implement community plans, and act as the urban design resource for the City. Citywide Planning develops plans and proposes policy and long-range plans on a wide range of topics, including housing, transportation, urban design, land use, and sustainability policy at the city-wide and neighborhood scales.
The Planning Department prioritizes racial and social equity across all divisions, and coordinates them through the Community Equity Division. The Community Equity Division reflects upon our historical and current inequities and revises our policies and implementation strategies to reverse inequities for our American Indian, Black, and other communities of color, along with other historically marginalized communities. The Division includes three units: Racial & Social Equity Plan Team, Community Engagement, and Policies and Strategies.
The Environmental Planning Division assesses plans and projects for potential physical impacts on the environment and develops measures to mitigate those impacts. Areas of analysis include transportation, cultural resources, and air quality. The Division’s work is conducted pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and local law.
NOTE: The San Francisco Planning Department’s annual report covers the fiscal year from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. All current and former commissioners and senior management staff listed above are shown for that period.