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San Francisco Health Network
Environmental Health

Maher Ordinance

San Francisco Site Mitigation and Assessment Programs

Site mitigation, the cleanup or management of chemical contaminants in soil, soil vapor or groundwater, is regulated per one or more of the following programs within the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), Environmental Health Branch (EHB):  Hazardous Materials and Waste Program (HMWP), Maher Program, or Voluntary Remedial Action Program (VRAP). Maher and VRAP are implemented by the Site Assessment and Mitigation Program (EHB-SAM).

The HMWP regulates sites that store or use hazardous materials or wastes or operate underground storage tanks. For additional information on the HMWP program see the Hazardous Materials and Waste Program   .

The Local Oversight Program (LOP) at the San Francisco DPH has been discontinued as of July 1, 2021.  All LOP cases have been transferred to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)

 

DPH Maher Program Steps

See also Maher Checklist and Maher Process Flow Chart

  1. Submit a completed Site Mitigation and Assessment Application (Add hyperlink), any supporting document(s), and current fee to SFDPH in the following manner to enroll in the Maher Program:
    • Email application and any supporting document(s) to:  DPH-SiteMitGeneral@sfdph.org. If supporting document(s) is/are too large, please provide a file sharing link on the email with the application. Alternatively, EHB-SAM will send you a secure file sharing link if requested in your email.  
    • Mail or Deliver a check for the current fee to:
    • San Francisco Department of Public Health
      Environmental Health Branch, Site Assessment & Mitigation
      49 South Van Ness Ave, Ste 600
      San Francisco, CA 94103

    For the current fee, please refer to the Fee Schedule. The fee is listed as "INITIAL FEE" under Hazardous Waste Soil Testing. Submit the application and supporting documents early in the project design and planning process. Indicate a Project Name and Address on the check.

    NOTE:  Single family or 2- to 3-unit residential building modification/remodel projects may be granted a waiver from further Maher requirements. See “Maher Waiver” below.

  2. Submit a Subsurface Investigation (Phase 2) Work Plan. This Phase 2 Work Plan must be approved by EHB-SAM.
  3. Implement the Phase 2 Work Plan, prepare a Phase 2 Report and submit to EHB-SAM for review.
  4. Prepare and submit a Site Mitigation Plan (SMP) based on the information in the Phase 2 Report. 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.
  5. The EHB-SAM must approve the SMP prior to beginning earth work authorized under your Building or Public Works Department Permit(s)..
  6. If hazardous substances remain in the subsurface at significant concentrations, or if mitigating measures are implemented, the EHB-SAM may require recordation of a Land Use Covenant (LUC) against the property. The purpose of an LUC is to notify any future buyers/occupants of the potentially hazardous residuals beneath the property and of any  mitigating measures present on-site.
  7. Perform on-site earth work and implement the approved SMP, including mitigating measures (if required).
  8. Finalize and Record the LUC document, if applicable.
  9. Prepare a Final Project Report describing the SMP and mitigating measure implementation; any incidents that triggered the contingency plan; and documentation of the transportation, disposal, and testing of soil and groundwater.
  10. The Final Project Report must be approved by EHB-SAM.

Once approved, EHB-SAM will issue a project completion or no further action letter.  The letter will describe the LUC, if applicable. 

 

Maher Waiver for Residential Remodel/Modification Projects

  1. Submit completed Site Mitigation and Assessment Application, any supporting document(s), and current fee to SFDPH in the following manner to enroll in the Maher Program:
    • Email application and any supporting document(s) to:  DPH-SiteMitGeneral@sfdph.org. If supporting document(s) is/are too large, please provide file sharing link on the email with the application. Alternatively, we will send you a secure file sharing link if requested in your email.
    • Mail or Deliver a check for the current fee to:
    • San Francisco Department of Public Health
      Environmental Health Branch, Site Assessment & Mitigation
      49 South Van Ness Ave, Ste 600
      San Francisco, CA 94103

      For the current fee, please refer to the Fee Schedule. The fee is listed as "INITIAL FEE" under Hazardous Waste Soil Testing. Indicate the Project Name and Address on the check.

  2. At a minimum, submit the following documents as part of a Maher Waiver application:
  3. 3 - 4 Sanborn maps (early, mid, and late 1900s) to describe the site history. Historical reverse City Directory sections may also be useful.
  4. Cover letter summarizing the historical information.
  5. Description of current site use and proposed project.
  6. Current and proposed site plan and elevation drawings. Plans and drawings must show the planned lateral extent and depth of planned excavation or soil disturbance.
  7. Information should be submitted via email.
  8. The EHB-SAM will issue a waiver from further Maher Ordinance requirements for the specific project described, if appropriate.

 

Maher Program Background

Properties with potential hazardous subsurface contamination that require a grading or building or street use permit may be regulated under the San Francisco Maher Ordinance: Article 22A of the San Francisco Health Code and Article 106A.3.4.2 of the San Francisco Building Code. The Maher Ordinance covers 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. Sites and areas covered per the Maher Ordinance are shown as shaded areas on the Maher map

Properties with known or potential hazardous contamination in the subsurface that is outside the current Maher area may be administratively added to Maher or the EHB-SAM may oversee the project under VRAP. 

The VRAP is authorized per State authority under the California Health and Safety Code (H & S Code) Sections 101480 through 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.