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Environmental Health

Site Assessment & Mitigation Program - Maher Program

Site mitigation, the cleanup or management of properties with chemical contaminants in soils or groundwater, is regulated per one of three programs under the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health (SFDPH): Local Oversight Program, Maher Program or Voluntary Remedial Action Program (VRAP). The Local Oversight Program (LOP) oversees the cleanup of properties with leaking underground fuel tanks. The LOP is implemented per an interagency contract with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). This program is addressed on a the Local Oversight Program web page.

Properties with potential subsurface chemical contamination that require a grading or building permit may be regulated under the San Francisco Maher Ordinance, Article 22A of the San Francisco Health Code. The Maher Ordinance covers areas with current or historical industrial use or zoning, areas within 100 feet of current or historical underground tanks or filled former Bay or creek areas and areas within 150 feet of a current or former elevated highway. Sites and areas covered per the Maher Ordinance are shown as shaded areas in this Planning Department map. The SFDPH Maher program is further described and the Maher Program Application is provided in the documents listed under Helpful Links.

The Maher Program is operated jointly with the San Francisco Planning Department and the Department of Building Inspection (DBI). Efforts are made to maintain communication among the San Francisco agencies. The Planning Department performs an initial environmental review of projects submitted to that department. If appropriate, the Planning Department requires a project proponent to submit the project to DPH per the Maher Ordinance. The Planning Department and SFDPH often confer on a specific project. DBI reviews project plans per San Francisco Building Code Section 106A.3.4.2. DBI projects that meet Maher criteria are referred to SFDPH. SFDPH implements the technical requirements of the Maher Program. SFDPH copies DBI and the Planning Department on review letters. A project proponent may also apply to the Maher Program directly by submitting the Maher Program application and fee to the SFDPH.

Properties with known or potential chemical contamination outside the current Maher area may be administratively added to Maher or may be handled under the San Francisco Voluntary Remedial Action Program (VRAP).

The VRAP program is authorized per State authority in the California Health and Safety Code (H & S Code) Sections 101480-101490. H & S CODE Sections 101480 through 101483 establish a cleanup oversight program which allows a local health agency to supervise the remedial action taken at a site, set up cleanup goals at a site and issue a letter or other document that certifies that the cleanup goals have been met.