Safe Sleeping Guidelines for Unsheltered Individuals

City and County of San Francisco Safe Sleeping Guidelines for Unsheltered Individuals During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In order to protect the health and safety of everyone, unsheltered people sleeping in tents or improvised structures must adhere to the guidelines listed below.

1. Tents and structures cannot be within 6 feet of a doorway to a business or residence. SF Health Code 581 (nuisance); Shelter In Place (SIP) Order; DPH Guidance 5/19/2020 at p.3

2. Tents and structures cannot be within 6 feet of a public restroom, transit stop or bike sharing station. Shelter In Place (SIP) Order; SF Health Code 581 (nuisance)

3. Tents and structures cannot block a doorway or exit, even if a building is not in use. SF Fire Code, Section 504.1 (building and doorways and exits)

4. Tents and structures cannot be within 6 feet of a functioning window. Shelter In Place (SIP) Order; SF Health Code 581 (nuisance)

5. Tents and structures cannot make sidewalks impassable; sidewalk must have a 4 feet wide path of travel free of obstacles such as street trees, parking meters, tents, etc. SF Public Works Code 724(a)(2); SF Pub. Works Code 723; DPH Guidance 5/19/2020 at p.3

6. Tents and structures cannot be placed in the street or medians, impede traffic, or block driveways. SF Pub. Works Code 723; SF Pub. Works Code 568; Cal. Streets & Highways Code 1480.5; Cal. Streets & Highways Code 1483; DPH Guidance 5/19/2020 at p.3

7. Tents and structures cannot be closer than three feet on the side and six feet on the front (this does not apply if individuals consider themselves part of the same household). SF Health Code 581 (nuisance); SIP Order; DPH Guidance 5/19/2020 at p.3

8. Unsanitary or excess items in an encampment cannot create safety or health hazards. Public Works Code section 174; SF Health Code 581 (nuisance); SF Fire Code, Sec. 304.1; SF Fire Code, Sec 304.2

9. Tents and structures cannot create fire hazards, which includes blocking a fire escape, coming within 5 feet of a fire hydrant, having open flames, or storing combustible materials. California Code of Regulations, Title 19, Division 1, §321 (general authority to eliminate hazards); SF Fire Code 507.5.5 (fire hydrants); SF Fire Code, Sec. 504.1 (building doorways and exits), SF Fire Code, Sec. 1031 (fire escapes); SF Fire Code, Sec. 304.1; SF Fire Code, Sec 304.2

10. Tents cannot interfere with pedestrian traffic on commercial corridors or recreational areas; this includes locations such as promenades, trails, plazas, and business districts. DPH Guidance 5/19/2020 at p.3

11. Tents and structures are not allowed in San Francisco parks and people cannot be in parks outside of the posted hours of operation. SF Parks Code 3.12; SF Parks Code 3.13; SF Parks Code 3.21

12. Public Works will continue requiring individuals and groups to temporarily move tents and structures in order to clean sidewalks as outlined in Public Works Code section 174 and Admin Code section 80.4(c), even if they meet these guidelines. In addition, Public Works will continue confiscating abandoned property and tents used for storage (instead of habitation) as allowed in the SFPW Bag and Tag Policies.

Any tent or improvised structure not meeting these guidelines must relocate to another area. If someone is asked to move, they have agency to decide for themselves within these guidelines what location is safe for them. Individuals will be given a reasonable amount of time to gather their belongings and move to a safe site. Note that these guidelines are based on City and State codes as well as guidance issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Health related to the COVID-19 pandemic and are subject to change.