For Immediate Release - September 25 2006


Contact: William Strawn, 415/558-6250






SAN FRANCISCO, September 25, 2006: San Francisco’s Building Inspection Commission (BIC), the body overseeing the City Department responsible for code-compliant construction and renovation permits, as well as inspections, today announced its formal request for a Controller’s Office analysis of DBI’s code enforcement process. 


“Code enforcement is a vital part of DBI’s Inspection Division,” noted BIC President Debra Walker.  “We’re engaging the Controller’s analytical expertise to review our effectiveness and accountability, and to make recommendations – if needed — to our Commission on specific steps to insure our code enforcement process is working as it should and does so while meeting all required conflict-of-interest rules.”


DBI receives thousands of complaints annually alleging illegal work on homes and commercial buildings.  The Department investigates the merits of such allegations, and employs numerous code enforcement tools as part of its process – including the issuance of Notices of Violation, Orders of Abatement and Director’s Hearings.  The BIC also sits as the Abatement Appeals Board to hear evidence and make final decisions on staff recommendations for effective remedies; and where any DBI code enforcement procedures fail to compel the building owner to comply with code requirements, BIC’s Litigation Committee refers such cases to the City Attorney for court-ordered remedies.  There are currently more than 40 BIC-referred cases under investigation or action by the City Attorney, involving millions of dollars of permit remedies and corrections.


“While the overwhelming majority of employees at DBI earn the public’s trust every day by delivering high quality professional life-safety services to a wide range of San Franciscans,” Walker added, “we’re seeking new analysis to guide DBI’s governance decisions and to underscore our ongoing vigilance in protecting the public responsibilities entrusted to our employees.”


“The management and staff at DBI play a vital leadership role in managing the City’s large and highly complex building inventory,” Acting Director Amy Lee noted, “an inventory that’s a critical component in the City’s life-safety network. And while we’re only a little more than one year into a series of departmental reforms that are addressing and correcting past issues, we welcome the Controller’s insights on DBI’s code enforcement process. This is simply one more example of what Mayor Newsom, the new Commission and our senior management team are doing to assure the public we are fulfilling our responsibilities professionally, courteously and effectively for everyone seeking DBI’s services,” she said.


The Controller’s Office will make a public presentation at the BIC’s October 2nd meeting, and brief Commissioners on its proposed methodology, goals and timeline to complete this review.


The Department of Building Inspection’s mission is to oversee the effective, efficient, fair and safe enforcement of the City and County of San Francisco’s building, housing, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and disability access codes.  Under the direction and management of the seven-member citizen Building Inspection Commission, the department’s Director and staff provide the professional expertise and services required to oversee San Francisco’s nearly 150,000 building inventory. Visit for more information.

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