Recent Amendments to the Maher Ordinance

The Maher Ordinance (Article 22A of the San Francisco Health Code) was adopted in 1986 to address concerns about exposure to hazardous substances encountered during redevelopment activities. The ordinance applied originally to the eastern side of the City near the historic Bay shoreline and areas of known Bay fill and specified that all projects disturbing at least 50 cubic yards of soil be evaluated for the potential presence of soil or groundwater contamination prior to issuance of a grading or building permit.

Effective August 16, 2013, the Maher Ordinance was amended to include sites with the following additional criteria:

  • Zoned or used for industrial occupancy, currently or historically;
  • Current or former presence of hazardous substances or underground storage tanks (USTs);
  • Located within 100 feet of current or former USTs; and
  • Located within 150 feet of elevated freeways.

Expanded area (orange) now covered by the Maher Ordinance.

We can assist you in complying with the Maher Ordinance through the following steps:

  • Prepare a Maher Application Form with a Site History Review;
  • Submit a Subsurface Investigation Work Plan for DPH approval;
  • Implement the Work Plan and submit a Subsurface Investigation Report;
  • Prepare and submit a Site Mitigation Plan for DPH approval; and
  • Prepare and submit the Final Project Report for DPH certification.

Mitigation actions may be required depending upon the nature of the contamination and the proposed development. Cost-effective measures for building on impacted sites, such as soil removal, soil treatment, installation of vapor barriers, or placing restrictions on uses or activities on the site provide a relatively straightforward process for developers to achieve compliance with the Maher Ordinance. While these amendments substantially increase the number of sites subject to the Maher Ordinance, they reduce the uncertainty about what requirements for mitigation will apply.

Sellers of properties that are subject to the Maher Ordinance should be aware of the notification requirements to prospective purchasers. Purchasers should be prepared to conduct thorough and proper due diligence, especially for current or former gas stations, auto repair shops, manufacturing sites, retail sites that may have contained dry cleaners, or any site with a known or suspected history the use of hazardous substances, including sites with heating oil USTs. While the updated Maher Ordinance will provide greater certainty for developers, it also expands the criteria for inclusion in the program and increases the focus on DPH review and approvals to develop the scope of any pre-development assessments.

Please contact Teter Engineering at or (415) 889-8875 for assistance in complying with the Maher Ordinance.