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An Update on SF Survey

Courtesy of the San Francisco Planning Department.

This article was originally published in our April-June 2022 issue of Heritage News. Read the full issue here.

By the San Francisco Planning Department

The San Francisco Planning Department has recently kicked off several efforts to support the San Francisco Citywide Cultural Resources Survey (SF Survey), a multi-year effort to identify, document, and evaluate sites and places of cultural, historic, and architectural importance across San Francisco. Once completed, this analysis will help guide the department’s decisions on future landmark designations and other heritage-based work, as well as on new development, area plans, and building-permit applications.

Why are we doing SF Survey?
SF Survey aims to help protect both our architectural and cultural heritage by identifying places of cultural and historical importance. Throughout the survey, Planning hopes to engage and expand the representation of the city’s underrepresented communities and their neighborhoods, including American Indian, Black, and other communities of color. To do this, information collected during SF Survey will assist department staff in making historic-resource evaluations more thorough and through an equity lens, resulting in the identification of a more diverse range of properties associated with underrepresented communities for potential Article 10 Landmark Designation, and listing in the California Register of Historical Resources or National Register of Historic Places. This information will be gathered and remain publicly available through SF Survey’s web-based cultural-resources inventory (developed using Arches, a cultural heritage-focused data-management platform). These findings will be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission during the finalization and adoption process over the next several years.

Art Deco building at 5401 Mission Street, built in 1936. The Planning Department started pilot survey work in the Crocker-Amazon neighborhood in early 2022. Photo by Dale Cruse is licensed under CC-BY-4.0. 

Community Engagement Framework
Input and feedback from San Francisco’s communities are key to the success of SF Survey. To foster their role and maintain accountability, Planning has developed a draft community engagement framework. The document will guide the engagement and collaboration strategies that will inform SF Survey and Planning’s approach. The framework is centered on the Historic Preservation Commission’s Resolution No. 1127: Centering Preservation Planning on Racial and Social Equity and aims to develop partnerships with other city agencies, historic-preservation peers, community-based organizations, cultural districts, and other culture-bearers. Staff are currently reaching out to cultural districts and various community-based organizations for feedback on the community engagement framework and look forward to sharing it for review and comment at a Historic Preservation Commission hearing later this spring. For more information on the framework, including upcoming events, please check the project website:

Planning Department staff start pilot survey work in San Francisco’s Crocker-Amazon neighborhood in early 2022. Courtesy of the San Francisco Planning Department.

Pilot Fieldwork
Planning began the pilot survey in the Crocker-Amazon neighborhood this spring. The fieldwork has allowed Planning staff to test survey technology prior to the official launch of SF Survey later this year. Work has consisted of taking photographs of properties from the public right-of-way and talking with members of the neighborhood. Staff have completed building descriptions, brief owner/occupant research, and review of historic-context statements. This information will be used to preliminarily evaluate each property surveyed using the National Register and California Register Criteria for Evaluation. The information recorded as part of the pilot survey will be available through SF Survey’s web-based cultural resources inventory. Planning anticipates the continuation of the pilot survey throughout the spring of 2022, and will provide an update at a future Historic Preservation Commission hearing.

The above graphic illustrates the various strategies developed for the Community Engagement Framework. Courtesy of the San Francisco Planning Department.

If you have questions regarding SF Survey, email us at or leave a voice message at (628) 652-7573. For more information and periodic updates throughout the survey, check out the webpage at or follow the progress on Instagram at @sanfranciscoplanning.

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