San Francisco Department of the Environment

Frequently Asked Questions - Tenant Bicycle Parking in Commercial Buildings

Have a question about tenant bicycle parking in commercial buildings? 
Check here first to see if we can help you get the answer you need. 
 

1.   What is the Tenant Bicycle Parking in Existing Commercial Buildings Ordinance?

Effective March 2012, the San Francisco Tenant Bicycle Parking in Existing Commercial Buildings Ordinance encourages cycling by requiring commercial property owners to allow tenants to bring their bicycles into the building or designated bike parking area. Sponsored by Supervisor John Avalos, this legislation passed in partnership with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), and assists in attaining the goal of bicycling accounting for 20 percent of all commute trips in San Francisco by 2020. This is part of the city’s larger goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2017. 

See FAQ 6 for more information on complying with the ordinance.

2.   What defines a commercial building? 

The Tenant Bicycle Parking in Existing Commercial Buildings Ordinance - applies to buildings that house tenants that provide goods and/or services to the public, and/or to the business community directly.

Specifically, the Planning Code defines a commercial use as providing goods and/or services to the general public and/or the business community, including:

  • Uses which provides goods and/or services directly to the consumer
  • Light manufacturing, wholesale sales, management, administrative, clerical and other services exclusively to the business community and not to the general public

The Ordinance only applies to commercial buildings; residential buildings are not subject to the Ordinance.  For guidance on mixed-use buildings, see FAQ 18. For more information, download the Planning Code Land Use Definitions guide.

3.   Where can I find related provisions in the Planning Code?

Bicycle parking requirements for commercial properties are found in the current Planning Code Section 155.2.

4.   What is the difference between the Tenant Bicycle Parking in Existing Commercial Buildings Ordinance and the Planning Code?

The Tenant Bicycle Parking in Existing Commercial Buildings Ordinance is law set forth by the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) to promote and support commuting to work by bicycle and requires commercial property owners to provide bicycle parking, or allow tenants to bring their bicycles into the building. 

The Planning Code is a set of adopted regulations that prescribes, among other items, the layout, number and type of bicycle parking intended to assure that off-street parking facilities are provided in amounts and in a manner that will be consistent with the objectives and policies of the San Francisco General PlanSection 155.2 of the existing Planning Code provides guidance for the quantity needed to provide enough bicycle parking to meet tenant demand.

Frequently Asked Questions for Commercial Building Owners, Lessees, Managers

5.   Who is required to comply?

All owners, lessors, managers or other persons who control a commercial property are required to allow tenants to bring their bicycles into their leased space or designated bike parking area.

6.   How do I achieve compliance?

If you are a commercial building owner, lessor, manager or other person controlling a commercial building, please follow the directions below to be in compliance with the law:

Full Bicycle Access, No Tenant Restrictions:

If you allow tenants to use any area in the building to transport and store their bicycle including elevators, stairwells, office spaces and other areas, you are in compliance with the Ordinance.  No further action is necessary.

Prescribed Bicycle Access, Some Tenant Restrictions:

If you allow tenants to bring their bicycles into the building, but would like to prescribe specific details and limitations on bicycle access, you will need to complete a Bicycle Access Plan.  Your submitted Bicycle Access Plan will be kept on file at the San Francisco Department of the Environment.  After you make the submitted form available to all tenants of the building, no further action is necessary.

Exception:

You may apply for an exception ONLY if your building’s elevator is not available for bicycle access due to substantial safety risks, OR alternate covered off-street or alternate indoor no-cost bicycle parking available for your tenants can use.  For more information, see FAQ 10.

7.   When do I have to comply with this Ordinance?

You are required to be compliant with the ordinance by January 31, 2014.  By January 31st, SF Environment must have received your Bicycle Access Plan or Exception form.  

8.   Who is required to submit a Bike Access Plan?

If you are an owner, lessee, manager or other person who controls a commercial property, submit a Bicycle Access Plan if you identify specific details and limitations on bicycle access, including route to elevators or stairs that accommodate bicycle access, route to a designated area for bike parking and other information as listed in the Ordinance. 

Bicycle Access Plans should be submitted to the Department of the Environment. The Plan will be kept on file at the Department and made available upon request to tenants. If you would like to update their Bicycle Access Plan, re-submit a Bicycle Access Plan with the updates included. 

If you do not want to prescribe specific details by which your tenants bring bicycles into your building, no action is required.  By not prescribing access, you are allowing tenants to bring their bicycles into their leased spaces.

9.   Where do I submit the Bike Access Plan?   

The Bicycle Access Plan must be submitted online. You will receive an email confirmation of your submission (please check your spam filter if you do not see it).

10.   What are the exceptions to the ordinance?

If you are an owner, lessee, manager or other person who controls a building, you may fill out an Exception form if:

  •  Your building’s elevator is not available for bicycle access due to substantial safety risks; or
  • You have identified an alternate covered off-street or alternate indoor no-cost bicycle parking that meets the security requirements of Planning Code Section 155.2, meets the quantity and other requirements identified in the existing Planning Code,  and is available within three blocks or 750 feet, whichever is less, and that accommodates all tenants requesting bike access.

The Department of the Environment, after consultation with the Municipal Transportation Agency and Department of Building Inspection, will either approve or deny the exception request. The Exception Form is found online.  Commercial properties that file for an exception should also complete a Bicycle Access Plan to ensure that tenants are aware of the specified location to park their bicycles. 

Specific parking security requirements apply to commercial properties requesting an exception. See FAQ 13 for additional information.

11.   Where do I submit the Exception form?

The Exception form must be submitted online. You will receive an email confirmation of your submission (please check your spam filter if you do not see it).

12.   How do I know where bike parking is currently available near my property?

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) maintains a list of bike parking spaces available in garages.

13.  What are the security requirements in the Planning Code Section 155.2?

The security requirements apply if you are requesting an exceptionSection 155.2 of the Planning Code provides a description of the types of bike parking facilities that qualify as secure and meet the requirements of this ordinance.

The two options for bike parking are:

  • Class 1: Facilities which protect the entire bicycle, its components and accessories against theft and against inclement weather, including wind-driven rain. Examples of this type of facility include (1) lockers, (2) check-in facilities, (3) monitored parking, (4) restricted access parking, and (5) personal storage.
  • Class 2: Bicycle racks which permit the locking of the bicycle frame and one wheel to the rack and, which support the bicycle in a stable position without damage to wheels, frame or components.

14.  Does BART parking count as designated alternative indoor bike parking?

BART bike parking stations are fee-based and therefore cannot be designated as alternate indoor bicycle parking.  Off-site bike parking spaces must be provided at no cost to tenants.

15.  Some bike parking is already available in my building. Am I exempt from compliance?

Section 155.2 of the existing Planning Code provides guidance for the quantity needed to provide enough bicycle parking to meet tenant demand.

If bike parking is provided in an area separate from the tenant’s leased space, please complete a Bicycle Access Plan to prescribe specific details, limitations or path of access to the bike parking area.

16.  How do I know how many bike parking spaces is enough?

Section 155.2 of the existing Planning Code provides guidance for the quantity needed to provide enough bicycle parking to meet tenant demand.

If bike parking is provided in an area separate from the tenant’s leased space, please complete a Bicycle Access Plan to prescribe specific details, limitations or path of access to the bike parking area.

17.  Can I charge my tenant for bike parking?

The ordinance does not prescribe the type of bike parking arrangement between you and your tenants.  However, if you renovate your building and trigger planning code requirements, the planning code does specify that bike parking be provided at no cost to tenant (Planning Code Section 155.1(e)(1)). 

18.  What if my building is mixed use and includes both residential and commercial space?

The Ordinance applies to the retail and other commercial spaces of the property.  Section 155.2 of the existing Planning Code provides guidance for the quantity needed to provide enough bicycle parking to meet tenant demand.

19.  Who is responsible for submitting a Bike Access Plan for my office building?

Your building’s owner, lessee, manager or other person who controls a building is responsible for submitting a Bicycle Access Plan, if it is required.  A Bicycle Access Plan is submitted if your building management identifies specific details and limitations on bicycle access, including route to elevators or stairs that accommodate bicycle access, route to a designated area for bike parking and other information as listed in the Ordinance.  The Plan should be communicated to you.

If your building management allows you to bring our bike into the building without prescribing specific details on bicycle access, a Bike Access Plan does not need to be submitted.

20. Is my property manager allowed to charge me for bike parking in my building?

The ordinance does not prescribe the type of bike parking arrangement between you and your building manager.  However, if your property owner or manager provides bike parking off-site, within three blocks or 750 feet, whichever is less, the parking should be provided at no cost, as detailed in the exception process (see FAQ 10).

21.  I want more bike parking in my office building. Can this ordinance help me?

This ordinance does not require specific numbers of parking spaces, but Section 155.2 of the existing Planning Code provides guidance for the quantity needed to provide enough bicycle parking to meet tenant demand.

22.  What is the timeframe for commercial property owners to comply?

Commercial property owners subject to the Ordinance should comply with this Ordinance by January 31, 2014. 


Contact Information

CommuteSmart
San Francisco Department of the Environment (SF Environment)
City & County of San Francisco
Phone: (415) 355-3700
Email: [email protected]


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