San Francisco Lead Law

San Francisco Lead-Based Paint Ordinance

Effective January 5, 1998, legislation was passed by the board of supervisors and signed by the mayor that amends the San Francisco Building Code (SFBC Ch. 36). The new ordinance governs activities that disturb or remove painted surfaces on the exterior of the buildings and steel structures built before December 31, 1978. The owner or the contractor must perform the following actions:

  • Notify affected parties before work begins;
  • Use containment barriers;
  • Prevent lead paint from going beyond the containment barriers;
  • Remove visible lead paint chips and dust before completing work.

It is the owner’s responsibility to complete the following requirements:

  • Notify residential tenants three business days before work begins; and
  • Provide residential tenants with the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.

The owner or the contractor must:

  • Notify the Department of Building Inspection before work begins;
  • Notify contract and subcontract bidders of any paint inspection reports before bid submittal;
  • Post a “Lead Work in Progress” sign if containment is needed to prevent lead paint from migrating to another property, and remove when work is complete. Where signage is not possible, a letter is to be provided to neighbors.

Copies of necessary forms and signs may be downloaded from the Department of Public Health’s website.

Building exteriors do not have to be tested for lead; but if the building was built before 1979, lead paint is presumed to be present. Uncontrolled hydroblasting or high-pressure washing, use of heat guns operating above 1,700 °F, burning or torching with an open flame (including propane-fueled heat grids), scraping, sanding, grinding, abrasive blasting, or sandblasting without containment or a HEPA local vacuum exhaust tool are all prohibited methods.

The responsible party will face one or more of the following penalties if they do not comply:

  • Notice to correct violations up to three days;
  • Notice to stop work immediately and work not be resumed without authorization;
  • Inspection by a certified risk assessor before work resumes;
  • Administrative civil penalties of up to $500 per day per violation;
  • Fees to cover the cost of city agency’s enforcement activities;
  • Attendance at training approved by the state department of health services in lead-related construction (in lieu of monetary penalty for first violation).

For questions regarding the Exterior Lead Paint Work Practices Ordinance, contact the Department of Building Inspection, Lead Hazard Reduction Program at 415.558.6598.