New Emergency Ordinance re Construction Work During COVID-19

On August 28, 2020, the Mayor of San Francisco signed an emergency Ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors that prohibits construction work in a residential building, whether or not a building permit has already been issued, if the construction work would result in the suspension of water service or any other utility service to any resident of the building unless

(i) in the event of a water shutoff exceeding two hours in a single day, the property owner provides an alternative water source to each impacted resident, including but not limited to water bottles or gallons of water; 

(ii) in the event of an electricity shutoff exceeding two hours in a single day, the property owner provides a generator or alternative power source that allows internet use to each impacted resident;

Additionally, if it is expected that the construction work will require the use of loud instruments for a continuous or long period of time, the property owner must install temporary insulation to mitigate the resulting noise and disruption to impacted residential tenants. 

Notwithstanding the above, the Department of Building Inspection may authorize construction to continue if a pause would create an imminent safety hazard.

New Notice Requirements:

The Ordinance also requires the landlord to give each tenant that will be impacted by water and/or utility service interruption the name and contact information of a liaison who can provide information and respond to tenant concerns, as well as advance notice to each impacted resident as follows:

(a) in the event of an anticipated water or electricity shutoff lasting more than two consecutive hours or four non-consecutive hours in a single day, all impacted residents must be provided with 72 hours advance written notice; 

(b) in the event of an anticipated water or electricity shutoff of more than two consecutive hours or four non-consecutive hours on two or more consecutive days, or on more than three days in a single week, all impacted residents must be provided with written notice at least one week in advance of the first shutoff, and with weekly updates for prolonged construction projects. 

Effective Dates:

The Ordinance is effective for 60-days (until 10/27/20), unless extended, and is intended to be retroactive to July 14, 2020 (although the Ordinance also states that DBI should exercise “administrative discretion” when enforcing the Ordinance for violations that occured prior to enactment on August 28, 2020).  

Exemptions:

Landlords are exempt from the obligations of this emergency Ordinance if (a) the landlord and all impacted residential tenants agree to different terms, or (b) if the building contains 100% affordable housing units (not rent-controlled units). 

Enforcement:

The Department of Building Inspection is empowered to enforce the requirements of this emergency ordinance. Upon finding a first violation, DBI will issue a warning to the property owner along with a copy of the requirements of this emergency ordinance. For any subsequent violations, DBI may issue a Notice of Violation and/or any other applicable citation pursuant to the Building Code. 

A copy of the legislation can be found here.