SF Bird-Safe Buildings Planning Code

One of the first cities to prevent birds killed by buildings (Bird-Safe Buildings Planning Code)

San Francisco, CA

How you can benefit

Birds pollinate our crops and reduce insects and disease.  Extinction of ‪pollinators‬ might increase human deaths to about 1.4 million from disease and malnutrition.  In North America:

  • Nearly half of bird species are in San Francisco (about 400).
  • Clear buildings and windows are the top killer of wild birds and kills 100 million to one billion a year. Many of those birds are endangered or threatened.  

Light at night, especially during bad weather, can cause night migrating birds to descend and become disoriented near artificial light. Then they are likely to die flying into glass or fall to the ground from exhaustion.

So in 2011, San Francisco established Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings. The standards are mostly voluntary. But the ordinance requires bird-safe standards for new buildings, additions and retrofits, and for buildings near urban bird refuges (defined as open water and green spaces, including vegetation-dense rooftops). Requirements include:

  • Façade Treatments: Netting in front of clear glass or breaking up the glass surface visually with fritting (ceramic lines or dots) which lets occupants see outside.
  • Lighting Design: Minimal lighting, shielded lighting, no uplighting or event searchlights. ƒ
  • Wind Generators: Sites must not feature horizontal access windmills or vertical access wind generators that do not appear solid.

Requirements above are similar for particularly dangerous structures like freestanding clear glass walls, skywalks, rooftop greenhouses or enclosed balconies.

Why it's a leading policy

San Francisco was one of the first U.S. cities to create requirements for new construction and major renovations. Buildings can voluntarily be part of the city Bird-Safe Certification and Acknowledgement Program.

Goal

To prevent birds from flying into windows and buildings.

Who can take action

Building developers, architects, and owners.  Also, anyone can take simple steps below during the day and at night:  

  • Turn off unnecessary indoor lights.
  • Draw blinds or curtains which can also save energy.
  • Avoid placing plants by clear windows or walls.
  • Report injured birds found outside of buildings by contacting safebirds@goldengateaudubon.org or (510) 843-6551, and San Francisco Animal Care and Control at (415) 554-9400.

You can also:

  • Let windows get grimy.
  • Hang by windows anything that glitters and moves in the breeze.
  • Hang black garbage bags in front of problem windows.

Contact

AnMarie Rodgers, City Planner, SF Planning Department, (415) 558-6395, AnMarie.Rodgers@sfgov.org

Last Updated

July 14, 2015

Boulder County Wildlife Impact Report Regulation

Requiring buildings and landscapes to avoid harming wildlife and plants (Wildlife Impact Report Regulation), 1998

BOULDER COUNTY, CO

 Infographic by the  World Bank .

Infographic by the World Bank.

HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

Protecting endangered animals or plants, and food crops can reduce disease in all living things including people. Losing biodiversity of species can result in a loss of jobs, food, medicines and industries that support life

Boulder county created a regulation requiring developers to submit a wildlife impact report. If they find threatened or endangered species, the Board may require measures to protect them.

GOAL

To avoid harming wildlife and plants, especially threatened or endangered ones.

WHO CAN TAKE ACTION

Developers of new, large buildings or landscapes.

OUTCOME

The regulation has helped limit development, which is important because Boulder county is rural with a lot of wildlife and plants.

CONTACT

Planning Department, Boulder County Land Use Department, 303-441-3930, Planner@BoulderCounty.org

LAST UPDATED

November 11, 2015

San Jose Private Sector Green Building Ordinance

Requires new private buildings over 10,000 square feet to be LEED Silver or higher (Private Sector Green Building Ordinance), 2009

SAN JOSE, CA

 When you can see views from where you work, you might get up to 25% better memory.

When you can see views from where you work, you might get up to 25% better memory.

HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

You can benefit from being in a green building because it can improve:

The San Jose Private Sector Green Building Policy requires new privately owned buildings over 10,000 square feet to get at a minimum, LEED Silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

WHY IT'S A LEADING POLICY

Builders must submit a checklist from LEED or Build It Green, which encourages developers to voluntarily include additional green building features.

WHO CAN TAKE ACTION

Privately owned buildings over 10,000 square feet.

OUTCOME

San Jose's Gish Family Apartments earned a LEED Gold rating.  It includes 35 apartments for tenants earning less than half the area median income.  Since low-income tenants often do not have cars, the owners give them free transit passes. Tenants also pay their own energy bill so they have a financial incentive to conserve.

Since people with low incomes are disproportionately affected by asthma and less likely to have access to quality healthcare, the building uses low-polluting materials like furniture with no added urea-formaldehyde, and low volatile organic compound insulation, paints, sealants, and adhesives. And the entire building, including the retail and outdoor areas, is non-smoking (read more).

PUBLIC OUTREACH & EDUCATION

The San Jose Environmental Services Department formed the Green Building Steering committee (from key city departments), Green Building Work Group (from the community), Green Building Taskforce (building, housing and community members appointed by the Mayor) to implement the policy.

CONTACT

Jennifer Seguin, Manager of Green Building Initiatives, City of San Jose, 408-975-2543, jennifer.seguin@sanjoseca.gov

LAST UPDATED

October 14, 2015

Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy

Funding urban farms, arts, cultural and recreation areas (Parks and Green Spaces Levy), 2008

SEATTLE, WA

 Les Grove Park in Seattle, WA. Photo via  Year of Seattle Parks .

Les Grove Park in Seattle, WA. Photo via Year of Seattle Parks.

 

HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

Being outdoors reduces stress, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and enhances survival after a heart attack.  In 2008, Seattle voters passed the Parks and Green Spaces Levy to fund existing and new parks and green spaces.  It costs $80.78 per year for the life of the levy (2009-2014) for an owner of a $450,000 home.

WHY ITS A LEADING PROGRAM

Seattle levies property taxes to buy, develop, and/or restore parks, recreation/cultural facilities, and green spaces.

GOAL

To fund parks and green spaces.

WHO CAN TAKE ACTION

Homeowners must pay the levy.

OUTCOME

As of 2015, Seattle added 8 acres of parks and improved 32 development projects (urban farms, museums, arboretums, trails, performing arts centers, play fields, pools, playgrounds, gardens).

CONTACT

Rick Nishi, Parks & Green Spaces Manager, Seattle Parks and Recreation, 206-733-9319, rick.nishi@seattle.gov

LAST UPDATED

September 19, 2015

SF Pavement to Parks Program

How a business can turn a parking space into a park (Pavement to Parks Program), 2010 

San Francisco, CA

 Fabric8 Parklet in San Francisco, CA.  Photo by San Francisco Great Streets

Fabric8 Parklet in San Francisco, CA.  Photo by San Francisco Great Streets


HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

Before 2010, San Francisco streets were designed to accommodate cars more, which was unsafe and unwelcoming to pedestrians and bikers. So the Pavement to Parks Program was created in 2010 as an inexpensive and non-permanent way to turn a street parking spot into a park with benches, tables, chairs, landscaping and increased bike parking.

WHY IT'S A LEADING PROGRAM

San Francisco was the first city in the country to introduce parklets.  It currently has more parklets than any other U.S. city.

GOAL

To encourage people to bike and walk more. 

WHO CAN TAKE ACTION

Businesses can apply to create a park-like, pedestrian- and bike-friendly area entrance.  

OUTCOME

As of 2015, more than 60 parklets have been built in San Francisco.  The first trial Parklet in San Francisco brought a 37% increase in pedestrian traffic in the area during weeknights and a 350% increase in people walking with bikes during the weekend. 

PUBLIC SUPPORT & OPPOSITION

Parklets are one of the rare initiatives that enjoy widespread public support in San Francisco. Residents and merchants are mainly concerned with the enforcement of loitering laws and delivery truck logistics. Public hearings are only scheduled if objections arise during the 10-day posting of public notification signage.

The Planning Department published the Request For Proposal, but the program’s success relies on collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The temporary nature of a Parklet allows the City and County of San Francisco to rate whether the success of the space warrants a more long-term investment.

Ideal criteria for parklets:

  • The potential to increase pedestrian and bike safety
  • A lack of public space in the surrounding neighborhood
  • An underutilized roadway
  • Sufficient community support

LEGAL ISSUES

Permit Holders are responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and programming of the Parklet. They are required to sign a maintenance agreement and provide evidence of at least $1M in liability insurance. Though the permitee is often a business adjacent to a Parklet, required signage reinforces that patrons do not have priority to occupy the space. Since temporary developments don’t require traffic or environmental studies, the permitting process is simplified to green light construction.

BUDGET TO COORDINATE THE PROGRAM

Once
 a
 permit
 is
 approved
 and
 ready
 to
 be issued,
 a business pays the 
Department 
of
 Public
 Works 
and 
the Municipal
 Transportation 
Agency:

  • $791 

for
 all
 applications
  • 
$650 
to remove 
up 
to 
two
 parking meter
s
.


If
 the
 parklet
 includes
 three
 parking
 stalls
 or
 more,
 an
 additional 
$285 
base 
fee 
per 
additional 
parking stall
 and
 $325 
fee 
per 
additional
 meter
 removal
 
is 
required.   After
 the
 first 
year,
 yearly
 permit
 renewals
 are 
charged
 $245.52.

The
 business 
might also pay
 around
 $5,000‐$15,000
 to build the parklet.

CONTACT

Ilaria Salvadori, Pavement to Parks Program Manager, San Francisco Planning Department, (415) 575-9086, sfpavementtoparks@sfgov.org

LAST UPDATED

July 15, 2015