Press Release April 15, 2019

San Francisco Planning Debuts Business Zoning Check Service

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Interactive online service helps streamline the path for business owners

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Planning has launched an interactive web feature, Symbium’s BUILD for Business, that allows users to easily determine whether their proposed business is permitted in a specified location, search for all locations it is permitted in San Francisco under applicable zoning regulations, and learn more about required steps in the application process. 

“Opening a business can be challenging for any number of reasons, including navigating multiple zoning, licensing, and permitting regulations,” said John Rahaim, Director of San Francisco Planning. “This service will be a significant asset in helping planners and the public more easily find the information they need and better understand how the code applies to properties.”

To accurately determine whether a business is permitted, users are guided through an interactive dialogue regarding details about their business, including specific location, type of business, which floor the business is located, and whether the business is considered formula retail. Users will then be informed, through interactive map visualizations, whether the business is permitted, if a Conditional Use permit is required, if there is mandatory Discretionary Review, or if it is simply not permitted. Users who do not have a specific location in mind can instantly visualize the areas, throughout San Francisco, where their business is permitted. The tool also provides clear definitions of relevant terms and detailed information on required process and applicable programs.

BUILD for Business was configured by Symbium, a Computational Law platform with a primary focus on streamlining regulatory processes for local planning and building departments. The company's inaugural launch took place in May 2018 at the Bridge SF Summit through the Startup in Residence program, a 16-week program that connects tech startups with local government agencies to develop technology solutions for public-sector challenges.

“Navigating San Francisco's Planning Code can be intimidating to the experienced user, much less a first-time business owner,” said Leila Banijamali, Symbium CEO. “In partnership with San Francisco Planning, we mechanized the Planning Code to configure a Complaw-enabled web application that allows the public to find – with just a few clicks – where they are allowed to open their business in San Francisco.”