A Mobile Food Facility is any vehicle or pushcart used in conjunction with a commissary or other permanent food facility upon which food is sold or distributed at retail in static location.
Like many major cities across the country, mobile food facilities have become an increasingly significant feature of the streetscape in San Francisco. In order to address this growing trend, the Board of Supervisors adopted ordinance 119-13 (Public Works Code, Article 5.8), regulating Mobile Food Facilities in December of 2010, followed by Public Works guidelines (Public Works Order No. 179,044), approved February 25, 2011.
On July 28, 2013, the Board of Supervisors amended Public Works Code, Article 5.8 to address various location and noticing requirements concerning mobile food facilities accompanied by Public Works guidelines (Order 182,101). The new legislation streamlines the rules and regulations for mobile food vending, making it assessable and affordable to be a legal street-food vendor in San Francisco.
Department of Public Health and San Francisco Fire Department continues to enforce public safety regulations, while location permitting was transferred from the Police Department to Public Works.
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Call 311 to report a problem or complete a Request for Service online.
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Choosing of Location
- When choosing a location, please be aware that the majority of trucks provide service on the passenger side of the vehicle.
- Truck/ trailers shall:
- Be located on the street in a legal parking space
- Not be parked against the flow of traffic
- Occupy parallel parking stalls
- Pushcart: The minimum recommended width of a sidewalk shall be 15 feet.
- All Mobile Food Facilities must maintain minimum clearances of:
- 75’ from existing restaurant primary entrance
- 8’ from Street Artist
- 5’ from Curb Return
- 6’ Path of Travel
- 6’ from Street Furniture
- 7’ from Fire Hydrant
- 8’ from Bus Zones
- 12’ from Blue Zone
Please note that Department of Public Health requires Restroom Verification (a property owner/business within 200’ of the mobile food facility must consent in writing to use of restroom facilities for your employees)
Verify requirements with:
- Provide a diagram of the proposed location showing everything located on the sidewalk/street showing the location of the mobile food facility with distance dimensions. See Sample Drawing. Drawing is not required to be drafted by a computer or to scale, but must be with a ruler and legible.
- Represent dimensions between Mobile Food Facility and obstructions including, but not limited to, trees, newspaper racks, bike racks signs, parking meters, hydrants, payphones, lights, SFFD Alarms, etc.
- Dimension the length and width of the Mobile Food Facility.
- Provide width of the sidewalk.
- Provide property line, street names, North arrow.
- Completed Public Works Mobile Food Facility application
- Two (2) photographs of the permit applicant(s) for ID cards (i.e. passport size)
- Site plan
- A sample menu or itemized list
- Fees: Half of processing, notification, and inspection.
- Refund Policy: No refunds will be issued verbatim per city code Article 5.8 Section 184.83
Public Notification (Notice of Intent)
The mandatory public notification comprises of a mailing and posting. The duration of the notification period continues for 30 days (10-day physical posting at proposed location within the notification period) and allows the public to submit comments.
After review of the application package and after the requirements of Public Works Code Article 5.8 and Public Works Order 182,101 are met, an applicant can then proceed to obtain and submit a notification package from a notification service. The package shall contain:
Public Works will provide the notices and the envelopes.
Comments for Mobile Food Facility permit applications must be submitted in writing within 30 days of the Notice of Intent via:
Please include the permit number and location, the reasons for your objection, and your contact information.
Notices Of Intent
Public Hearings and Meetings
If at least 1 objection is received, a public hearing will be scheduled to hear the matter and gather facts. After the hearing, the hearing officer will consider the objective facts and make a recommendation to the Director of Public Works. Ultimately, a Director’s Decision will either Approve or Deny the hearing officer’s recommendation.
Shall the Director’s Decision approve the recommendation to approve an application, or if there are no concerns and/or objections, the applicant will be issued a 90-day tentative approval letter to obtain:
Once all the items in the tentative approval letter are received, Public Works will review the documents for approval.
Final decisions may be appealed to the Board of Appeals within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of an approved or denied permit application. For further information, please contact the Board of Appeals in person at 1650 Mission Street, Suite 304, or call 415-575-6880.
Register your Business
Every person or entity doing business in the City and County of San Francisco must possess a valid Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, as stated in Article 12A of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code. This code also applies to businesses located outside of San Francisco that perform business transactions or services in San Francisco.
Single Day Use
In situations where a mobile food facility is requested for a private catering event, a temporary occupancy permit can be issued.
A written authorization letter from the event sponsor/fronting property owner stating the request, time, location, date, and statement that there will be no cash transactions and the mobile food facility will only service event patrons.
Minimum 3 Business Days for approval and permit activation. No exceptions will be allowed.
A current copy of Department of Public Health’s Certificate of Sanitation
A current copy of the San Francisco Fire Department Permit/Decal
A current copy of San Francisco Business Certificate.
Permit Applications (Required)
For More Information:
SF Public Works • Bureau of Street-Use & Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor • San Francisco, CA 94103 - map
Telephone : (415) 554-5810 • Monday-Friday
Operating Hours : 8:00am-5:00pm
Permit Processing Hours : 7:30am-4:00pm