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Environmental Health

Maher Ordinance and Voluntary Remedial Action

San Francisco Site Assessment and Mitigation Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is San Francisco Health Code Article 22A, "Maher Ordinance"?

The Maher Ordinance requires San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) oversight for the characterization and mitigation of hazardous substances found in soil, soil vapor, and groundwater in areas designated within the Maher map. The Maher map includes areas with current or historical industrial use or zoning; areas within 100 feet of current or historical underground tanks; filled former Bay, marsh, or creek areas; or areas within 150 feet of a current or former elevated highway.

Q: How do I know if I am in a Maher Area?

For a preliminary assessment, enter the address in the SF Property Information Map - Maher Areas, To verify, contact the San Francisco Planning Department (CPC) or San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI).

Q: How do I know if I am in the Maher Program?

You may be in the Maher program if your work (1) requires a building or grading or street use permit and (2) will be disturbing a minimum of 50 cubic yards of soil within the designated Maher area. The  CPC may request that you contact DPH for Maher case review.

Q: I am in the Maher program. Now what?

The Maher program has several steps:

1) A site history (Phase 1) report must be submitted to the Site Assessment and Mitigation Program (EHB-SAM) for review and it will be determined whether you comply with Article 22A or need to submit further documentation. If the site history has no record of hazardous substances in the soil, soil vapor, or ground water, the EHB-SAM will provide you with a letter that you have complied with the requirements of Article 22A and no further Maher-related work is required. The letter will copy the relevant CPC and DBI contacts.

2) A work plan for a subsurface investigation (Phase 2 Work Plan) must be submitted to the EHB-SAM for review and approval. The EHB-SAM will review the Phase 2 Work Plan and determine if it meets the requirements of Article 22A. After the  Phase 2 Work Plan is approved, it may be implemented.

3) A subsurface investigation report (Phase 2 Report) describing the work plan implementation and summarizing the analytical results of collected samples shall be submitted to the EHB-SAM for review and approval. If the Phase 2 Report indicates that hazardous substances are present in soil, soil vapor, or groundwater, a site mitigation plan (SMP) shall be submitted to the EHB-SAM for review and approval. The SMP should include soil and groundwater handling procedures, designs for mitigating measures that control human exposure to remaining hazardous substances, an environmental contingency plan, health and safety plan, and other information. The SMP shall be completed by a qualified person.

4) Perform on-site earth work and implement the approved SMP, including mitigation measures (if required).

5) Prepare a Final Project Report describing the SMP and mitigation measure implementation; any incidents that triggered the contingency plan; and documentation for the transportation, disposal, and testing of soil and groundwater. The Final Project Report must be approved by EHB-SAM.  

6) If applicable, prepare and record a Land-Use Covenant (LUC) against the property.

7) Following completion of all required actions under Article 22A, the EHB-SAM will then provide a notification that the applicant has completed and complied with Article 22A and no further action is required at that time.

Q: Do I need an Institutional Control, Deed Restriction and/or Land-Use Covenant (LUC)? What's the process?

A: In the event that contamination remains in the subsurface at a property following development activities, there may be a need to restrict uses on the property with an Institutional Control, Deed Restriction or Land-Use Covenant (LUC). LUCs ensure that it is safe to leave these contaminants in-place, as long as the restrictions defined within the LUC are adhered to. In addition, if a deed of trust or mortgage is already recorded against the property, a subordination agreement may be required.

Once the EHB-SAM determines that an LUC is required, you will receive a template document that you will need to review, complete, and submit for our review and approval. The EHB-SAM will review the draft document(s) with legal review provided by the City Attorney's office, and comments will be provided (as necessary). When all parties have agreed on the language, the City Attorney's office will sign the LUC as to-form and you will need to (1) obtain all required notarized signatures and (2) record the document with the City's Assessor-Recorders office.

Please Note - the EHB-SAM will issue a no further action letter following recordation of the LUC and submittal of an electronic copy to our office.