Accessible Business Entrance Program - For Owners & Tenants

House KeyThe Accessible Business Entrance program helps property owners comply with state and federal  accessibility laws and helps people with disabilities gain greater access to goods and services offered by businesses in San Francisco. Passed by the Board of Supervisors in 2016 (Ordinance No. 51-16), the ordinance requires that existing buildings with a place of “public accommodation” have all primary entrances accessible for people with disabilities. Under state and federal law, a place of “public accommodation” is generally a business where the public will enter a building to obtain goods and services, such as banks, day care centers, hotels, offices, restaurants, retail stores, etc. 

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Is my Building Exempt from the Ordinance? 

Any existing building with a place of public accommodation is subject to the ordinance, unless exempted. The ordinance applies to both privately and publically funded buildings that fall within the jurisdiction of California Building Code, Title 24, Part 2.

There are four exemptions:

  1. The building was originally constructed with a permit application dated on or after 2002.
  1. The building or business is owned and operated by a recognized religious organization.
  1. The building or business is a “bona fide” private club.
  1. All of the businesses contained in the structure are not “public accommodations” thus the structure is not “a place of public accommodation”.

If you are uncertain whether you are a “Public Accommodation” or if you are exempt, please complete the Pre-Screening Form prior to hiring a design professional or Certified Access Specialist (CASp).


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What are the Responsibilities of the Owners and Tenant?

Compliance with this ordinance is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner. The ordinance is an addition to the San Francisco Building Code and the code only recognizes the owner of the structure. The ordinance, however, does state that it is not intended to interfere with any existing lease agreements between tenant and owner. If the owner has an existing agreement that the tenant shall pay for any accessible upgrades required, the ordinance does not nullify such agreements. It should be clarified, however, that the Department ultimately holds the property owner responsible for compliance.

If the tenant is determined to be responsible, the Department will ask the owner to consider that it may be to his or her advantage to assist in the cost of any remedial work because this ordinance may not have been foreseen by the tenant or owner when the lease agreement was signed.

NOTE: If the owner or tenant claimed and received an Unreasonable Hardship due to excessive cost, the determination of the Access Appeals Commission may include restrictions on the property that may affect what type of businesses are allowed to lease this property in the future without repairing the barriers to access.


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Steps to Comply with Program Requirements 



Determine if the building is subject to the program or exempt. If the building is exempt, complete the Pre-Screening Form.


If not exempt, complete a Category Checklist Compliance Form. Buildings are categorized I-IV based on their level accessibility. You need to obtain the services of a California licensed design professional (Architect or Engineer), or Certified Access Specialist (CASp).


If you have a Category I building, a California licensed design professional (Architect or Engineer), or Certified Access Specialist (CASp) is required to complete the Category Checklist Compliance Form and submit to the Department with the $96.72 administrative fee. 

If you have a Category II, III or IV building, your design professional will provide workscope and an estimated cost for compliance. Your design professional will complete the Category Checklist Compliance Form, describing a proposal for work to be performed, and submit the form by the due date with the $96.72 administrative fee.


Obtain any necessary permits, perform the work, and obtain a final inspection to receive a Certificate of Final Completion. 


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