San Francisco, California

Biophilic Cities Member since October 19, 2013

The cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California, San Francisco is also set amidst immense natural beauty. The City sits at the tip of a peninsula with the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east. Nearby parkland includes Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Park. However, within most of the City’s hilly, dense, and highly urbanized neighborhoods, nature is limited. The City recognizes the need to ensure San Franciscans have more access to nature at the neighborhood level. As San Francisco strives to increase access to nature within city limits, it has become a pioneer in the creation of small urban spaces through programs such as Pavement to Parks, Green Connections Network, SF Better Streets, and the Urban Forest Plan. San Francisco is also an international leader in sustainability, aspiring to produce all the energy it needs from renewable sources and to become “zero-waste” by 2030.

City Contact: Peter Brastow, Biodiversity Coordinator, Founder of Nature in the City 2005 (415) 355-3733
  • "I believe we were named the greenest city in North America because San Franciscans are always willing to go the distance and find new ways of making our city a more sustainable place." - Ed Lee, Mayor


San Francisco, CA, Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings

San Francisco has adopted comprehensive legislation that requires new construction and buildings undergoing significant renovations incorporate a variety of bird-friendly design elements to address hazards arising from building location and building features.

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  • Open Space 2100: OPEN SPACE 2100 is a planning project to help provide a long-term, sustainable roadmap for using, acquiring, developing, funding, and managing open space in San Francisco.
  • Pavement to Parks: San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks Program works with neighborhoods to create and test their ideas for new public spaces.
  • Green Connections Network: Green Connections aims to increase access to parks, open spaces, and the waterfront by envisioning a network of ‘green connectors’ – city streets that will be upgraded incrementally over the next 20 years to make it safer and more pleasant to travel to parks by walking, biking, and other forms of active transportation.
  • SF Plant Finder: The San Francisco Plant Finder is a resource for gardeners, designers, ecologists and anyone who is interested in greening neighborhoods, enhancing our urban ecology and surviving the drought. The Plant Finder recommends appropriate habitat-building plants for sidewalks, backyards and roofs that are adapted to San Francisco’s unique environment and climate. This tool was developed as part of the Green Connections project and provides a centralized location to learn about plants and trees recommended by City agencies and local ecology experts. The tool includes links to the Green Connections Ecology Guides – route-specific recommendations to support target species and habitat along the 24 Green Connection routes.


  • SF Better Streets: San Francisco’s policies encourage the design and development of ‘Better Streets,’ sometimes referred to as ‘Complete Streets,’ that work for all users. The San Francisco Better Streets Plan, adopted in December 2010, states: “Better Streets are designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel. A Better Street attends to the needs of people first, considering pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, street trees, stormwater management, utilities, and livability as well as vehicular circulation and parking.”
  • Urban Forest Plan: Developed in collaboration with San Francisco Public Works, the Urban Forestry Council, and Friends of the Urban Forest, the Urban Forest Plan provides a long-term vision and strategy to improve the health and sustainability of the City’s urban forest. Adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2015, the Plan identifies policies and strategies to create an expanded, healthy, and thriving street tree population for all of San Francisco

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Local News

San Francisco - A Partner City
August 10, 2012

What is the difference between a green city and a biophilic one? After all, San Francisco, like other top green cities (Portland, Seattle, etc.) has …

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Parklets: San Francisco & Beyond
June 2, 2012

Parklets are the latest biophilic feature to invade the streets of urban America this year. The concept began in 2005 as design studio Rebar purchased…

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