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Environmental Health

Health Code Article 11 Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Health Department's Role in Ensuring Healthy and Safe Housing Conditions for Residents?

The San Francisco Health Code requires property owners to maintain their property free of public health nuisances such as mold, garbage, insect pests, and rodents as well as toxic hazards such as lead and asbestos. SFDPH enforces these requirements citywide. We respond to complaints from the public and we also conduct proactive focused inspections where needed. In addition to citywide complaint response, the SFDPH Healthy Housing Program routinely inspects city-operated Single Resident Occupancy Hotels (SROs), tourist hotels, shelters, family SROs, and all apartment buildings having three or more rental units. Our Asbestos Program investigates concerns about unsafe asbestos removal during building demolition or remodeling; and Children's Environmental Health Promotion identifies and orders correction of lead hazards.

Why did Health Code Article 11 change in 2008?

The Department of Public Health is continually working to implement a comprehensive and proactive approach to protecting the health and safety of housing occupants as well as controlling rodent, mosquito and insect-related diseases in neighborhoods. The 2008 changes to Article 11 ensure that the Department has the ability to require structural barriers to rodent, mosquito.


Are these environmental health issues common in San Francisco?

Health code violations for rodents, mold, and mosquitoes are common in San Francisco. SFDPH responds to over 4,000 such complaints from the public every year. When SFDPH identifies and issues a Notice of Violation to fix a nuisance condition, the Department generally has rapid success in achieving compliance. However, problems such as rodent infestations and poor sanitation recur frequently because of poor building maintenance, structural problems like poor ventilation and gaps in walls allow pests to re-enter, and unsanitary tenant behaviors all may contribute to repeat violations. In some settings multiple issues are present.

How can we prevent repetitive Code Violations?

The addition of sections 609 - 609.2 to Health Code Article 11 improves our ability to enforce compliance with healthy housing and vector control rules and reduces recurrent violations.

Which Other Public Agencies are involved in ensuring Housing Safety and Sanitation?

The Department of Building Inspection's (DBI) Housing Inspection Services Program inspects multi-unit residential buildings routinely to ensure compliance with the city's Housing Code, which shares several requirements for health, sanitation, and safety with the Health Code. In addition, U.S. Housing and Urban Development inspectors periodically inspect federally subsidized units and San Francisco Housing Authority properties.




Making a Complaint

You may get more information about typical problems related to property conditions including how to make complaints to the correct agency.

If you would like to make a complaint regarding an environmental health issue with your housing, you may call 311, or if you are calling from a cell phone or outside the county, dial (415) 701-2311.

311 City Customer Service Agency - Service 24x7

San Francisco Department of Public Health Environmental Health Branch