To view graphic version of this page, refresh this page (F5)

Skip to page body
Seal of the City and County of San Francisco
City and County of San Francisco

Transportation Sustainability Program

Transportation Sustainability Program


The Transportation Sustainability Program (TSP) was created to better support the City’s longstanding Transit First policy by modifying the City’s development review practices to ensure that development impacts to the transportation system are offset by improvements to the system as a whole, with a primary focus on transit and multi-modal solutions.

The TSP plans to achieve this through the following two initiatives:

  1. Changing how the City evaluates the effects of new development on the transportation system - emphasizing all modes of transportation - under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); and

  2. Establishing a citywide Transportation Sustainability Fee (TSF) to offset the cumulative impacts of projects on the City's transportation network.

These initiatives ensure that development review practices are consistent with the City’s policies and priorities, and that a development’s impact on San Francisco’s transportation system is fully offset through system improvements.

Project Timeline

  • City desired alignment with Transit First policy
  • SFCTA Board requested policy analysis of alternatives to auto Level of Service (LOS)
  • SFCTA recommended eliminating LOS and replacing it with an auto trip generation measure & mitigation fee
  • City initiated nexus study to determine relationship of projected development to transportation system impacts
  • City staff worked with State Resources Agency to revise CEQA guidelines: New language allows LOS or “an alternative measure”
  • TIDF Update Nexus Study completed
  • March 2012 – TSP Nexus Study completed
  • May 2012 – TSP Ordinance introduced
  • Environmental review on the TSP begins
  • TIDF update adopted with new fee rates, consistent with proposed TSP ordinance
  • SB743 adopted, which affects the Planning Department's analysis methodology with respect to aesthetics, parking and traffic
and beyond
  • Ongoing outreach and engagement with stakeholders
  • Ongoing environmental review on the TSP
  • Legislation heard and adopted


Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), development projects being proposed must undergo environmental review.

Currently, the primary way that a project’s environmental effects on the transportation system are determined is by using a measure called Automobile Level of Service (LOS), which measures automobile delay at certain intersections or roadway segments. As a result, the environmental mitigations proposed to offset impacts identified using LOS are focused on improving automobile throughput. This is often infeasible in a dense, urban environment such as San Francisco. Oftentimes these mitigations are also in contradiction to the City’s Transit First and other multimodal policies and priorities.

The City's Transit First policy recognizes the need to support all modes of transportation - including cars, buses, bikes and walking - to safely and effectively move people and things around the City.

By eliminating Level of Service and replacing it with a measure that takes all modes of transportation into consideration, the environmental review can accurately assess how a new development project affects the entire transportation system and can result in mitigations that support the entire transportation system, including transit, bikes, and pedestrians.


State Senate Bill 743 (SB 743)

Concurrent with the development of the TSP, California passed Senate Bill (SB) 743 in September 2013, meant to improve methods used to evaluate transportation impacts under CEQA, including Level of Service. With the passage of SB 743 the City's and the State's goals of reforming LOS have converged. Currently, the City is working with State regulators to ensure that any transportation significance standards developed by the City are consistent with the criteria being developed at the State level.

For more information on what SB743 means for development review in San Francisco, click here.

Transportation Sustainability Fee (TSF)

The TSP proposes introducing a Transportation Sustainability Fee to help establish a means by which development projects can mitigate their impacts on the system.

The proposed fee would supplement existing local transportation funding sources and would fund a $1.4 billion expenditure program, over twenty years, shown to directly offset the impacts on the transportation system made by new development.

The TSF would replace or be a credit against payment of existing transit-related development fees such as the Transit Impact Development Fee (TIDF) and the Community Infrastructure Impact Fees if applicable (e.g. Eastern Neighborhoods, Market and Octavia) in order to avoid double charging for transit impacts of new development. The TSF would apply to all land uses, except for single-family homes.

The TSP is the first program in San Francisco which integrates impact fees with the CEQA process such that paying the impact fee means that a project is mitigating its environmental impacts.


Transportation Sustainability Fee: Policy Credits Program

The proposed TSF includes a Policy Credits program to support desirable programs and/or policy outcomes by providing a reduction to or waiver from the fee. There is $40 million in Policy Credits available over a twenty year period. The following types of projects are eligible for fee waivers or reductions under the Policy Credits program:

  • Small Businesses: Non-formula retail small businesses expanding or occupying pre-existing commercial space not exceeding 5,000 gross square feet.
  • Reduced Parking Developments: Projects will build less than the allowable maximum parking in zoning districts that set a parking maximum.
  • Affordable Housing Projects: Projects that are affordable to a household at or below 80% of the Area Median Income; that are subsidized by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and/or the San Francisco Housing Authority; that are affordable for a term of at least 55 years; and that are not built as part of the Inclusionary Housing program.
  • Small Residential Projects: Small residential projects comprised of 20 units or less. 


Proposed Transportation Sustainability Fees

Economic Activity Category
TSF Per Sq. Ft.  
    Residential – generally, except for Senior Housing
    Senior Housing
    Management, Information and Professional Services
    Retail / Entertainment
    Production, Distribution and Repair
    Cultural / Institution / Education – generally, except for Museum
    Medical and Health Services
    Visitor Services


TSP Expenditure Plan

$1.4 Billion in Transportation Improvements

The TSF is anticipated to generate $630 million over twenty years. That revenue will be used to leverage an additional $820 million in other local, state, and federal transportation revenues to fund a $1.4 billion expenditure program.

This will fund a set of highly-efficient and cost-effective improvements to the transportation system which will offset the impact of twenty years of development activity on that system. The program will focus on initiatives which show the greatest positive impact on transportation system performance.


Project Category
A. Transit Headway Improvements and Service Expansions
B. Transit Reliability Improvements
C. Regional Transit Improvements
D. Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Pricing Programs to Shift Mode Share
     TSF Program Implementation


Transit Impact Development Fee (Existing Fee)

The Transit Impact Development Fee (TIDF) is an existing impact fee on nonresidential development which, in the absence of an approved TSF, serves as the City’s primary mechanism to offset development’s impacts on the City’s transit system. An update to the TIDF in 2012 revised the fee rates for the first time in eight years, enhancing the fee's capacity to offset development impacts on the transit system. The TIDF fee rates and use categories for non-residential uses are consistent with the proposed TSF Ordinance.

Link: Existing TIDF (Planning Code Section 411)

Reports & Presentations

Project Team

The Transportation Sustainability Program is a joint effort between the San Francisco Planning Department, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Last updated: 1/15/2015 6:33:12 PM